College Grad Hiring Will Increase Slightly –

Employers are slightly more optimistic about the college labor market than they were last year, and more so than they’ve been since 2008, according to a recent study by Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute and Career Services.

The report, which includes survey responses from thousands of various employers, examines hiring and recruiting trends of those newest to the job market—college grads.

Findings show that employers rate the overall market an average of 2.55 – which rates between ‘fair’ and ‘good’, up from 2.38 last year.

However, a majority of employers have indefinite hiring plans. According to the report, just 22% of full-time hiring representatives are entering the recruiting season with definite plans to hire, down from 42% last year. Fifty percent of those who hired new college grads last year had definite plans, whereas only 24% do this year.

Still, recent grads have reason to smile: 45% of employers seeking talent at the associate and bachelor’s degree levels expect to increase hiring. Job opportunities for graduates with associate degrees are up more than 30% from last year, while the market for those with bachelor’s degrees experienced growth of 5%.

Related: NACE Report on 2013 Job Outlook | Schools: Top Online Business Degrees | Location Search Online Business Degrees By State

Business majors are the most requested among employers, with bachelor’s degree graduates in accounting, marketing, finance, and computer science being among the most requested.

The report also examined hiring and recruitment trends for different companies of different sizes. Smaller and mid-size organizations—all those with less than 4,000 employees—plan to remain the same or increase hiring across all degree levels, while large organizations—4,000 employees or more—are decreasing hiring across all degree levels compared to last year.

Findings also reveal that while 73% of respondents do not expect to raise starting salaries, almost 25% expect to increase starting salaries and less than 2% expect to lower starting salaries—a 10% drop from last year.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJ_tweets