Class of 2017 Job Outlook

November 16, 2016

Hiring for U.S. openings for Class of 2017 graduates is expected to be relatively flat, per results of NACE’s Job Outlook 2017 survey. Although that may not sound optimistic, the survey gathered some positive data.


Employers indicated plans to hire 5.8 percent more new graduates during 2016-17 than they did in 2015-16 for their U.S. operations.


This current projection is in line with final projections employers reported for last year’s graduates in the Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey. While employers initially anticipated hiring 11 percent more Class of 2016 college graduates, they ended the cycle instead with a 5.2 percent increase. (See Figure 1.)


Exploring the individual hiring plans of respondents provides insight into the flat hiring market for new college graduates. Overall, fewer respondents to the 2017 survey anticipate hiring more new college graduates than was the case a year ago: 36 percent versus 40 percent. (See Figure 2.)


This marks the fourth consecutive year of that trend. On a positive note, the difference is made up by much of employers who anticipate keeping their hiring levels even with last year’s levels. Fewer expect to cut hiring.


Most of the respondents that are increasing their hiring numbers are doing so because of company growth, as there is an increased demand for their products and services. Employers also cited the importance of building talent pipelines with new college graduates as a catalyst for increasing college hiring. Some respondents noted that they are molding these new hires to become the future leaders of their organizations.


The largest group of respondents maintaining their hiring levels also pointed to company growth, which is encouraging. Most of these organizations indicated that they are experiencing a stable work force and consistent work load, hence the reason for neither increasing nor decreasing their hires. A small group of respondents that will maintain their numbers did mention budget constraints, but expect to keep hiring new graduates at the same level.


Some of those reporting plans to decrease their hiring numbers cited hiring freezes and business conditions, but others indicated that they hired large numbers of graduates in the past few years, and simply don’t need to hire as many in 2016-17.


Data for the Job Outlook 2017 survey were collected from August 5, 2016, through October 4, 2016. A total of 169 surveys were returned—a 17 percent response rate.


The Job Outlook 2017 report is available at or through the MyNACE area at


Figure 1: Job Outlook hiring projections, 2011 – 2017*




* Years 2014 through 2017 are the hiring projections for U.S. locations only. Prior years’ projections are shown for informational purposes only, and should not be compared to the 2014-17 projections.





Figure 2: Employers’ hiring expectations














Source: Job Outlook 2017, National Association of Colleges and Employers


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