Salaries Down for 2009 College Graduates, Survey Shows

Posted by: Alison Damast on July 15, 2009

The average starting salary for 2009 college graduates has barely budged over the last year, according to a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) report released July 15. In 2008, a freshly minted graduate was being offered $49,693, while this year’s number stands at $49,307, a $386 decline, according to the report.

Perhaps even more disheartening for recent graduates, the salaries are not keeping pace with inflation. The consumer price index rose .7% in June from May, the Labor Department said this week. Meanwhile, the average offer for recent graduates with bachelor’s degrees is down nearly 1% from the same time last year. When you factor in inflation, salaries are down nearly across the board for college graduates.

The picture is not looking so rosy for those graduates with a business bent. As a group, graduates with bachelor’s degrees in business saw average offers creep up less than 1% to $47,239. Some business majors fared especially poorly, namely business administration majors who saw their salaries sink 2.1% to $44, 944. Economics graduates saw their salaries drop 1.3 to $49,829, according to the report.

Despite the widespread declines, there were a few bright spots for business students. Accounting majors managed to post a 1.9% increase in their salaries, snagging an average offer of $48,993. Finance graduates’ salaries rose 2.9% to $49,940, while marketing graduates boasted a 3% increase to $43,325, the survey shows.

Still, the NACE salary report represents only part of the picture for the 1.5 million students who received bachelor’s degrees in 2009. Back in May, NACE’s 2009 student survey showed that just 19.7% of 2009 graduates who applied for a job actually had one. NACE says that their research shows that many recent graduates are still continuing their job searches.

The fact that salaries haven’t gone down more could be the one upside to the NACE report. “Those who have secured employment have starting salaries that are comparable to those offered a year ago, underscoring employers’ reluctance to tamper too much with starting salaries, even in a tight economy,” according to the NACE press release.

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