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Class of 2006 Faces Best Job Market in Three Years

April 27, 2006 — Students graduating from the University next week will face the best job market in three years, according to a recent poll of colleges and universities, conducted by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and posted to, a career development and job-search site produced by NACE. Employers surveyed by NACE indicated that they will increase new college hiring in 2006 by 14.5 percent.

Several factors indicate a booming job market. Colleges report increased numbers of employer visits and spring campus interviews as compared to 2005. The University hosted 160 employers at this year’s Spring Career Fair as compared to last year”s 113.

Nearly half of the colleges surveyed reported there were more print job postings for new graduates, and more than 80 percent said there were increased online job postings for this spring compared to last year.

Stan Inman, director of Career Services at the University of Utah, notes the same trends hold true at the University. Inman says that because of better current economic conditions and increased competition for certain candidates some graduates will receive signing bonuses-especially those in accounting and computer science.

More than 90 percent of employers polled in the annual, national NACE survey describe the current job market as good, very good or excellent. Increased competition among employers to hire the “best and the brightest” graduates with bachelor’s degrees translates into higher starting salaries for the class of 2006. Increases in starting salary offers will be found in the disciplines of business, business administration/management graduates, management information systems and all of the engineering fields.

Currently, data for liberal arts disciplines are somewhat limited, although the NACE survey reports that as a group these graduates are also doing better this year than last. As a group, the average starting salary for liberal arts graduates stands at $30,958, up two percent from last year at this time.

The NACE survey reported the greatest number of job offers to 2006 graduates with a bachelor’s degree in the following areas (in descending order), along with average starting salary offers:

  • Accounting services ($46,039)

  • Engineering services ($49,715)

  • Building, developing, general contracting ($45,052)

  • Consulting services ($47,037)

  • Financial services ($43,950)

  • Educational services ($39,291)

  • Petroleum and coal products ($53,611)

  • Aerospace ($54, 410)

  • Retail/wholesale trade ($34,932)

  • Transportation equipment manufacturing ($51,610).

Inman says students graduating in health professions, including nursing and pharmacy, are in demand and, in effect, have 100 percent placement.

Inman says employers report that the most effective way they find potential employees is through on-campus recruiting and internship programs. “Employers are looking for graduates who have had real-world experience before graduation,” he says.

According to an NACE report on the spring 2006 job and salary outlook, the growing demand for new graduates is “a result of an increased demand for employers’ products and services. The rebounding economy and the aging (and retiring) work force further add to the positive outlook. Indications are that employers expect the good job market to continue-or perhaps get better.”

“Education and a college degree is still the best investment you can make,” Inman says. “For each year of post-high school education, students can expect a 15 to 20 percent increase in compensation, which calculated over a lifetime is extremely significant. In fact, the ten highest paying occupations in Utah all require a degree.”

According to July 2004 statistics from the Utah Department of Workforce services, average hourly wages in Utah increase with education levels. On average, workers in jobs that require virtually no training earn $9.90 an hour; someone with an associate degree will earn an hourly wage of $19.70; and an individual with a bachelor’s or higher degree will earn $28.80 an hour.

James A. Wood, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University’s David Eccles School of Business, reports that Utah’s unemployment rate in March was 3.4 percent, compared to an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent in March 2005. The current unemployment rate for the nation is 4.7 percent.

“Job growth is very strong in Utah. Nearly 50,000 new jobs have been created in the past year,” Wood reports. “The state ranks fourth among all states in rate of new job growth. All sectors of Utah are expanding. Construction, professional and business services and health care are the top performing sectors.”

The U’s Career Services Library, which contains information on a wide variety of topics, including career/major research, job search strategies and employment trends, is open to students, faculty and staff as well as the general public. U graduates may use these resources indefinitely, although after two years they are charged a nominal fee for any alumni career counseling. For more information on career trends and opportunities for college graduates, visit the University of Utah’s Career Library, 350 Student Services Building, open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., call 801-581-6186 or visit