Economic recovery leaving MBAs behind

(MoneyWatch) Job prospects for new college graduates are improving but for one notable group: MBAs.

Hiring of people who got a master's of business administration degree in 2013 is projected to drop by roughly 25 percent over the next year, according to a new survey on college recruiting trends by Michigan State University. The poll, which surveyed nearly 6,500 employers, found a dimmer employment landscape for MBAs in a broad range of industries, including finance and insurance, government, retail and healthcare.

Across all degrees, by contrast, from associates to doctorates, hiring is expected to increase by 2 percent, the researchers found. Hiring for grads with bachelor's degrees is expected to jump by 7 percent. That figure would have reached double-digits, the study notes, if the financial industry, which has been shedding jobs, had been excluded from the survey. Financial jobs are taking a hit because of declines in mortgage activity, higher interest rates, online banking growth and new banking regulations. 

"The college labor market is starting to heat up with double-digit expansion in some areas," said Phil Gardner, the economist who oversees Michigan State's Collegiate Employment Research Institute, in a statement. "The market has progressed steadily during the past four years and a more robust market may be just around the corner."

Indeed, the job market for college grads is shaping up as the best it has been since 2007, the year before the recession slammed the economy. Employers of all sizes rated job prospects within their fields as "good," with larger businesses (those with more than 25,000 employees) the most optimistic.

According to the report, accounting and computer science are the best fields for recent college grads, with 18 percent of employers looking to hire. Other areas were businesses are hiring:

- Marketing (16 percent)- Sales (16 percent)- Administrative services (15 percent)- Business services (14 percent)- Project management (13 percent)- Management training (13 percent)- Information management (13 percent)- Human resources (13 percent)

With the federal sequester in effect, government jobs have taken a hit. Government hiring of new college grads is expected to drop by an estimated 20 percent over the next year. Most other sectors, however, should experience hiring increases. Michigan State expects manufacturing hiring to climb 23 percent, while hiring for nonprofits and education should jump 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Grads who do secure jobs will find their salaries about 5 percent higher than the class of 2013, the report found. But more companies will be compensating new employees strictly through commission or with a commission and salary combination.

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