Job growth cools for college grads, but ‘there’s still a lot of opportunity,’ career expert says

Personal finance

For soon-to-be college grads without a job lined up, the future is daunting.

“I’m definitely pretty stressed about it,” said Naomi Watson, 22, a senior at Santa Clara University in California.

The political science major plans to move back in with her mom while she continues her search. With student loan payments on the horizon and no job offers yet, “I’m lucky I have a home I can go to,” she said.

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Hiring outlook slows for new college grads

Overall, job prospects look relatively positive for the Class of 2023. Employers plan to hire about 4% more new college graduates from this year’s class than they hired from the Class of 2022, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE.

Although that’s down significantly from earlier projections, “there’s still a lot of opportunity out there,” said Kevin Grubb, associate vice provost of professional development and executive director of the career center at Villanova University.

Many undergraduates are giving themselves a head start, he added. “Students have become more motivated and eager to be ready for their career search early on,” Grubb said. “Usually over half have done an internship, which does help them in the labor market when they finish.”

This year’s college seniors are also quick to jump on opportunities: 62% have already accepted their first job after college, compared with only 20% from the Class of 2022 at this time last year, according to a separate report by LaSalle Network.  

Where new grads get the best bang for their buck

Photo by Mark Scott via Getty Images

Some companies, in industries like technology, have pulled back given the current economic uncertainty, according to new data from payroll provider Gusto.

However, there are still pockets of growth, mainly in personal service industries, such as retail and food and beverage, along with health care and education, Gusto found. NACE also identified significant upswings in transportation and chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Of course, opportunities and pay also vary by location. San Jose, California, has the highest rate of new grad hiring as well as the greatest potential to earn six figures, according to Gusto’s report.

Adaptability and flexibility is going to be key.
Luke Pardue
economist at Gusto

But “when you adjust for cost of living, there may be more value in other cities such as Houston, Philadelphia, Austin, Atlanta and Dallas,” said Luke Pardue, an economist at Gusto.

In fact, salaries in Houston stretched the furthest while New York was the least affordable city overall.

“Adaptability and flexibility is going to be key,” Pardue said.

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