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Class of 2011: Your paychecks will be bigger

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- College grads are getting offered bigger paychecks for the first time since 2008.

Students who will graduate this spring are receiving job offers with starting salaries averaging $50,034 per year, up 3.5% from last year, according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Meanwhile, employers surveyed by NACE said they plan to boost hiring of college graduates by 13.5% from a year ago.

Business majors noticed the biggest bump, with the average salary offer rising nearly 2% to $48,089.

Within the business discipline, accounting majors received salary offers of $49,022, up 2.2%, while finance majors were offered an average $50,535, an increase of 1.9%.

Offers for business administration/management graduates slipped slightly to $44,171, down 2.3%.

Graduates majoring in engineering -- typically one of the highest-paying fields -- didn't see a big change overall, with the average starting salary down a mere 0.3% but still high at $59,435.

Certain engineering majors, however, saw significant jumps, with electrical engineering majors receiving an average salary offer of $61,690 -- up 4.4% from the previous year. Offers for mechanical engineers climbed 3.8% to $60,598.

But it didn't pay as much to graduate with a degree in civil engineering this year, with starting salaries in that field slipping 7.1% to $48.885.

While the association's survey didn't break out starting salaries for individual liberal arts majors, offers were up a whopping 9.5% to $35,633 for the group as a whole. That compares to a steep drop of 11% last year.

The quarterly survey tracks starting salary offers to new college graduates in 70 disciplines nationwide at the bachelor's degree level. To top of page

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