Demand for Recent College Grads in the U.S. Hits Highest Level in Three Years

Fifty-six percent of U.S. hiring managers say they plan to include recent college grads in their 2023 headcount, marking the highest level in three years as companies look for more entry-level talent.

This is according to a survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

With companies reporting intentions to hire for entry-level positions in 2023, it may explain why the interest in college graduates continues to climb, as 51% of hiring managers reported plans to hire recent grads in the first half of 2022, and now 56% report the same intentions for 2023.

During the past few years, college graduates continue to be sought after by companies—52% in the second half of 2021, 48% in the first half of 2021, 43% in the second half of 2020 and 38% in the first half of 2020.

More than 2 in 5 hiring managers (45%) say their companies also plans to hire college students in 2023, while 38% report the same for vocational/career tech graduates. Around a quarter say their company plans to hire immigrant workers (24%), adults with a disability (23%) and high school students (22%).

Entry Level, Full-Time Employees

Nearly two-thirds of employers (63%) report their company is looking to hire entry-level employees—an increase from the first half of 2022 (52%), while nearly 3 in 5 (58%) plan to hire for mid-level positions. Around 3 in 10 are planning to hire individual contributors (33%) or senior-level employees (28%), and few report they will hire C-suite executives (11%) in 2023—a significant decrease since the spring of 2022 (20%). Key departments for expansion include customer service (29%), general labor (27%), sales (26%) and IT/technology support (23%).

More than 4 in 5 hiring managers (83%) say they will bring on full-time employees, either hourly (61%) or salaried (48%) in 2023. The desire to hire full-time employees has remained relatively steady since the second half of 2021. Interest in this group remains on par with the first half of 2022, as a similar proportion reported this in the first half of 2022 (84%).

While companies navigate these challenging times, they may need to turn to more temporary hires in a pinch. Nearly three-quarters (73%) say their company is willing to hire contingent (i.e., temporary or contract) workers to meet business needs—despite a decrease since the first half of 2022 (79%). In fact, nearly 28% report their company plans to hire seasonal, temporary or contract workers.

“This year’s college graduates are entering a hot job market with promising news of more entry-level openings,” said Bill Stoller, Express Employment International CEO. “It’s a great time for this group to gain experience and build skills that will aid them in the development of successful careers.”

Survey Methodology

The Job Insights survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, 2022, among 1,002 U.S. hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in the U.S. who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than one employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data were weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 3.2 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. This credible interval will be wider among subsets of the surveyed population of interest.

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