Report: 77% of Employers Plan to Hire Recent College Grads, Hiring Rates Slowing

Livonia’s ASE, an employer association, Tuesday released the 2020 “Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey.” Most respondents said they hired or plan to hire a recent college graduate in 2020, but data suggests hiring is slowing.
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While the number of employers hiring recent college graduates has reached its highest level since 2016, experts expect a slowdown, according to ASE. // Stock photo

Livonia’s ASE, an employer association, Tuesday released the 2020 “Starting Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey.” Most respondents said they hired or plan to hire a recent college graduate in 2020, but data suggests hiring is slowing.

The annual survey looks at the state of wages and benefits provided to co-op students and recent college graduates and presents employers a snapshot of the recruitment and retention trends associated with these new entrants to the workforce.

“The number of employers hiring or planning to hire new college grads has reached its highest level since 2016,” says Mary E. Corrado, president and CEO of ASE. “However, while this job outlook looks promising for new college graduates, some challenges may exist.  Our data is suggesting that employers may be slowing the pace of their hiring or that we have reached a plateau. New grads will need to work harder to distinguish themselves and compete for what might be few opportunities. Our data suggests that prior work experience and internships play a significant role in employer decision making. Students should consider internships as a steppingstone to their career.”

The majority (76 percent) of the 121 responding companies represented in the survey have fewer than 500 employees. A little more than 80 percent of respondents are located in the metro Detroit region, with 58.7 percent of those classified as automotive suppliers.

About 77 percent of respondents said they have hired or plan to hire a recent college graduate in 2020. This is three percentage points higher than in 2019. However, just 19 percent of companies plan on increasing their hiring efforts, an 11 percent decrease from last year. When asked why their hiring of college graduates had changed, there was a 14 percent increase in those citing financial concerns.

The top five in-state institutions the responding companies actively recruit from are, in order, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Oakland University, Lawrence Technological University, and Wayne State University.

The top three most popular technical bachelor’s degrees hired in the past year were, in order, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. The three most popular nontechnical bachelor’s degrees were, in order, supply chain management, business administration, and finance tied to human resources or labor relations.

The top three knowledge or skill factors organizations consider when making hiring decisions are, in order, related coursework, computer skills, and internship/work experience.

The top three perceived shortcomings of recent college graduates are career expectations (62 percent), compensation expectations (54 percent), and adaptation to work environment (52 percent).

Of the disciplines named, the highest average starting salary was $71,581 for computer science. Electrical engineering followed at $70,236, then mechanical engineering at $67,600, business administration at $65,597, supply chain management at $63,589, human relations/labor relations at $59,975, and finance at $59,142.

Pay rates for high school and college co-ops and interns were separated by technical and nontechnical roles. The average hourly rate for a college senior in a technical field was $18.38 an hour and $16.75 for a nontechnical field. For a college junior, these numbers were $17.11 an hour and $15.75 an hour, respectively.

The survey is available free of charge to ASE members and for $525 for nonmembers. Contact Kevin Marrs at kmarrs@aseonline.org for more information.

ASE is a nonprofit, mission-based membership organization dedicated to strengthening organizations’ human resources departments by offering member benefits and discounted services.

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