Despite Tight Labor Market, '08 Grads' Prospects Good

October 10, 2008 ( - A recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) finds employers want 2008 college grads and have bumped up salary offers to attract them.

NACE’s quarterly salary survey tracks data supplied by two- and four-year colleges for nearly 80 disciplines at the bachelor’s degree level, more than 40 fields at the master’s level, and more than 20 at the doctoral level, SHRM reports. The survey found 94% of disciplines had increases to average starting salary offers, and the average starting salary offer to all college graduates in the fall 2008 salary survey is up 7.6% to $49,224.

According to SHRM, NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes said in a statement that one factor driving the increase in initial salary offers was the high demand for technical talent.

The average salary offer made to 2008 computer and information sciences graduates is up 12.9% from $51,992 to $58,677, while computer and electronics products manufacturers made a fair number of salary offers that exceeded $70,000.

The average salary offer to engineering graduates rose 6.6% from $53,710 to $57,250. Chemical engineering graduates saw initial salary offer increases of 7.7% to $63,773, and computer engineering graduates’ average salary offer topped out at $60,280 – a 7.8% increase.

However, other disciplines also commanded higher starting salaries, according to the survey. Business disciplines posted increases across the board, and the overall average salary offer to these majors was up 5.7% over the 2007 average of $44,287 to $46,800, SHRM said. Business administration/management majors saw an increase of 6.7% to $46,171, while economics majors saw a 6.9% increase to their average salary offer, now $51,062. In addition, accounting majors saw their initial salary offers peak at $48,020 – an increase of 3.7%.

Graduates in the liberal arts disciplines also fared well, realizing a 12.2% increase in their average offer as a group, raising it to $36,715. Within specific disciplines, English majors posted an 11.1% increase, raising their average offer to $35,453, and visual and performing arts graduates saw an increase of 16.2% to $35,073.