Employers Expect Hiring to Be Up 3.9%, but Lower Than Fall Projections for Class of 2023

BETHLEHEM, PA—Updated hiring projections from employers show they are planning to hire 3.9% more graduates from the Class of 2023 than they did from the Class of 2022, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

While results of NACE’s Job Outlook 2023 Spring Update survey are positive, they are down from earlier projections: In the fall, employers projected a 14.7% increase. (See Figure 1.)

Among respondents to the current survey, more than one-third plan to increase hires and more than half will maintain hiring levels, while approximately 12% expect to trim their college hiring. These expectations also have shifted from fall 2022 projections, when more than half planned to increase hires and less than 6% planned to decrease college hires.

“These trends can be explained, in large part, by examining the movement within certain industries,” explains Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director. “Some industries that planned large increases in the past are cutting back on their college hires. This is especially true for technology companies, which are laying off employees after hiring in large numbers during the pandemic.”

For example, survey respondents in the information industry planned to hire almost 87% more new graduates at this time last year. Currently, they are projecting a decrease in hiring of almost 17%. Similarly, last year at this time, computer and electronics manufacturers were planning to increase hires by more than 41%; although still positive, that projection now stands at 19.1% for the Class of 2023.

Another substantial swing is evident among utilities companies. Their hiring projection for spring 2022 was an increase of 11.5%; this year, utilities companies anticipate decreasing hiring by 39%—the largest reported decrease among survey respondents.

This movement coincides with shifts in average starting salaries for the current class. NACE’s Winter 2023 Salary Survey found that starting salaries for new college graduates earning bachelor’s degrees seem to be leveling off.

This is evident for those in traditionally higher-paying disciplines. For example, among students studying engineering, the average salary is expected to rise less than 1% over last year. For those studying computer science, the average salary is projected to fall 4%.

“Despite these shifts, this market is promising for graduates,” VanDerziel adds. “And there is still ample opportunity for tech graduates to use their skills in other industries. For example, our Winter 2023 Salary Survey report found that two-thirds of responding employers—across industries—are planning to hire computer sciences majors from the current class. They are still in high demand.” 

figure 1

About NACE’s Job Outlook 2023 Spring UpdateThe Job Outlook 2023 Spring Update survey was conducted from February 6 – March 13, 2023. Of the 216 total respondents, 171 were NACE employer members, representing 19.2% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2023 Spring Update survey was also distributed to nonmember companies; this group provided an additional 45 responses. The survey updates hiring projections for the Class of 2023; those projections were collected from NACE employer members from August 3 – September 16, 2022, and were reported in Job Outlook 2023, which was published in October 2022.

About the National Association of Colleges and Employers: Established in 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is the only professional association in the United States that connects nearly 11,000 college career services professionals, more than 3,600 university relations and recruiting professionals, and more than 400 business solution providers that serve this community.

NACE is the premier source of market research on career readiness, the employment of recent college graduates, and the college-to-career transition. NACE forecasts hiring and trends in the job market; tracks salaries, recruiting and hiring practices, and student attitudes and outcomes; and identifies best practices and benchmarks.

NACE offers its members unparalleled research, networking and professional development opportunities, guidance on standards and ethics, and advocacy on key issues. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.