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Starting salaries largely stagnant; internship scene improves

Michigan State University

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IMAGE: For new college grads, starting salaries are stagnant, though internships are plentiful, finds a new study by Michigan State University economist Phil Gardner. view more

Credit: Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, Mich. --- The job market for new college graduates may be heating up fast, but starting salaries will see only modest growth, a Michigan State University economist says in a new study.

About six in 10 employers say they will keep starting pay the same as last year for newly minted degree-holders. The remainder will offer salary increases, on average, of a modest 3 percent to 5 percent, said Phil Gardner, author of Recruiting Trends, the nation's largest survey of employers' hiring intentions for college graduates.

"Pressure on employers to increase starting salaries has been minimal since the market crash in 2008," said Gardner.

More employers, however, are increasing their incentives to attract the best candidates as the job market improves, Gardner said. Overall hiring for college graduates is expected to jump 16 percent - the largest increase in years.

Engineers at all degree levels continue to receive the highest starting salaries. For example, a new electrical engineer with a bachelor's degree will make, on average, about $57,000 per year. On the lower end of the starting salary scale, those with new bachelor's degrees in social work, advertising and psychology can expect to start at about $37,000.

Gardner also surveyed employers on their intentions to offer internships and co-ops. The internship scene, he found, is improving.

"Nearly 40 percent of employers will enlarge their intern and co-op pool compared to last year, while only 4 percent will decrease the number of interns," Gardner said.

More than 53,000 intern and co-op positions will be available, an average of 25 positions per company.

Some 71 percent of employers said they will pay their interns, up from 67 percent last year.

The findings precede the full Recruiting Trends report, which will be released in November. More than 5,700 companies responded to the survey.

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