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Survey: Companies plan to boost college grad hiring by 13 percent

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A new survey says companies plan to hire more college graduates next spring, suggesting employers are preparing for growth in 2013.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed 244 companies throughout the U.S. Overall, respondents reported plans to increase their new graduate hiring by 13 percent next spring, versus spring 2012.

Retailers showed the largest year-to-year increase, saying they plan to hire 47 percent more 2013 graduates than they did 2012 graduates. Finance, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and computer and electronics manufacturing, among others, all reported plans to boost hiring by double-digits.

Ryan Gatto, regional vice president for northern New Jersey at Robert Half International, said the survey’s findings are a good sign for the economy.

“Companies definitely want to ramp up their internal infrastructure to get ready for what they believe will probably be a more prosperous year in 2013,” he said.

College graduates already enjoy a stronger labor market, as only 4.1 percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree or above were unemployed in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s just over half the August national unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.

Still, Gatto said the labor market remains very competitive.

“Finding a job is a job in itself,” he said.

Gatto said college students should apply for internships, network online and offline and use on-campus resources in anticipation of graduation. He said job-seekers should make sure their online profiles are up-to-date and are attractive to hiring managers.

Gatto said he expects both temporary and permanent hiring to continue to grow in the coming months as companies position themselves for future growth, but he said the overall mood is still “cautiously optimistic.”

“Companies are growing, but companies still face challenges in this (northern New Jersey) market,” he said. “I think the worst is behind us, but it’s still sight unseen what we’re going to incur over the next year to two years.”

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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