NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Graduating college students should face an easier job hunt this year, according to a report released today by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
More than 61 percent of companies responding to a regular NACE survey said they intended to hire more college grads this year than last. Total college hiring should rise about 13 percent.
The report is great news for this year's college crop. Not only will more jobs be available, but heightened demand for their services should push up salary offers for new grads.
NACE research director Camille Luckinbaugh said, "We've seen evidence of increased competition in terms of starting salary offers. About half of employers told us that they had raised or would be raising their starting salaries, and we've seen average starting salary offers rise this year in a number of disciplines."
The service sector plans to take on 13.9 percent more grads this year, the biggest increase of any sector. Manufacturing will also be hot, up 13.4 percent.
The outlook is considerably less rosy in the government/non-profit sector, where hiring is expected to be less than 1 percent higher than last year.
More Southern employers (66.2 percent) plan to increase hiring than in any other region, but they only plan to increase their employee counts of college grads by 8.9 percent.
In the Midwest, 63.3 percent of employers plan to take on new grads, but those employers will hire in greater numbers; they're expected to bolster their work forces with 15.1 percent more grads, compared with last year.
Hiring should be almost as brisk in the West (up 13.9 percent) and the Northeast (13.3 percent).
The positive outlook for 2005 should carry over to next year as well. Luckinbaugh said, "Almost 36 percent of employers said they are already planning to hire more new grads for full-time entry-level positions in the Fall of 2005 than they did in the Fall of 2004."
For a look at what professions will be most in demand over the next few years, click here.
For a look at the most lucrative college degrees, click here.
Have you worked your way out from under a mountain of debt? If so, Money magazine would like to talk to you for an upcoming story about debt repayment. Please email Cybele Weisser at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story.