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Job prospects good for college grads in US

The hiring frenzy for graduating college students during the late 1990s has not returned, but it's getting close, analysts say.

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As graduating college students move in with their parents or occupy a friend's couch while they search for jobs, hosts of these transients will be relieved to hear that by all measures it should be a relatively short job hunt.

A steadily improving job market indicates that most graduates will have little problem finding a job that will elevate them from the ranks of student to young professional.

Based on statistics from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the future looks bright for college grads this year. At least 17.4 percent more jobs await the class of 2007 than last year's class. Even better, 26 of 29 undergraduate majors surveyed by NACE reported larger starting salary offers.

Among grads both new and old, a university degree seems to be a virtual employment guarantee. As of March, people with a bachelor's degree or higher experienced a 1.8 percent unemployment rate compared with a national average of 4.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"It is a favorable market for the new college graduates," says Brett Good, district president for southern California and Arizona at Robert Half International, a staffing company.

The abundance of job opportunities reflects the continued improvement of the economy since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. While the market for entry-level positions has yet to match the hiring frenzies seen during the late 1990s, analysts say it's getting close. "Every year since 2002, things got a little bit better, and then there was a significant improvement in 2005-06, and we've continued to improve at a very solid level," says Richard White, director of career services at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

In addition, companies have begun taking steps to fill the impending void created when baby boomers, who account for 45 percent of the workforce, begin retiring. "It's getting enough coverage that organizations are taking it seriously and saying how do we work with what will become a very problematic supply-and-demand issue," says Mr. Good.

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