DETROIT -- Job prospects haven't been this good for liberal arts graduates in years.
Liberal arts graduates can expect to be more fervently sought after this year and to be offered better salaries, according to the 30th annual recruiting trends survey conducted by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.
Among the reasons: The earlier-than-predicted retirements of the oldest baby boomers have created job openings of all kinds.
Also, with the high-tech industry booming, Terri LaMarco, associate director for employer relations at the University of Michigan, said employers in recent years have changed their attitudes about liberal arts majors.
"I think what they are seeing is that liberal arts majors can fill some of the positions that used to be considered technical," LaMarco said. For example, they can be trained to do programming, she said.
A total of 380 employers, primarily in the manufacturing and professional services sectors, responded to the survey.
Continuing a four-year period of frenzied growth, the job market for students receiving undergraduate or advanced degrees of any kind in 2001 will expand 6 percent to 10 percent compared with the year before, the survey found. It gave no breakdown for those with liberal arts degrees.
Much of the expansion will take place at mega-companies -- those with 3,500-plus employees. Those corporations are expected to expand hiring by 66 percent, an increase that will cross all degree levels. Last year, large companies reported that they planned to expand hiring 21 percent.
Engineering and computer science graduates, who have had it good for several years, will continue to have it good, according to the survey.
They will still land at the top of the pay scale with their starting salaries, earning between $45,000 and $50,000. Programmers will be in particular demand: Their starting salaries are expected to increase 5 percent this year to $43,700.
Graduates at the more modest end of the hiring pay scale, such as liberal arts majors, will see their average starting salaries push into the lower $30,000s.
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