NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – The hiring market for new graduates this spring won't resemble the frozen tundra of the past few years.
In fact, hiring is expected to increase 20 percent overall for those graduates with associates, bachelor's and master's degrees, according to a survey released Friday by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.
Nearly 600 employers, mostly in retail, finance, manufacturing and professional services, responded to the survey.
Of those, 11 percent rated the labor market "very good" or "excellent," up from 5 percent from last year. Meanwhile, those that rated the labor market as "poor" or "fair" fell to 38 percent; last year, 64 percent thought so.
In terms of their intentions to hire graduates, 50 percent of employers said they planned to increase their hiring compared to last year; 22 percent expected to maintain their hiring levels; and 28 percent expected a decline in new hires.
Forecast brightest for college grads
College grads are the group for which the highest percentage of employers (49 percent) said they expect hiring to increase over last year.
By contrast, those with Ph.Ds are the group for which the lowest percentage of employers (15 percent) expect to increase hiring.
The college majors in highest demand, employers said, were accounting, marketing and business. But the survey found that all academic majors will see at least moderate increases in hiring.
Last week, another job outlook survey released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers were most interested in hiring college grads who majored in accounting, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, business administration and economics/finance.
Where the most jobs will be
The largest companies – those with 4,500 or more employees -- expect the biggest boon in hiring. Fifty-nine percent said they expect to increase hiring compared to last year.
The regions where they see the strongest hiring are the Southeast, Southwest and the Northeast.
The strongest labor markets are expected to be in transportation, retail, wholesale, professional services, accommodation and entertainment and health.
The least optimistic hiring projections are in utilities, educational services, finance and insurance, and real estate. The survey also found taht public agneces are not planning a boost in hiring, with the exception of security-related posts, and state agencies expect to decrease the number of new hires.
In terms of growth in salary offers, the Michigan survey found increases of 3 percent to 7 percent for those with associates' and bachelor's degrees, but little change in the salaries for MBAs.