Starting Salaries Up 3.8% for Class of 2016 Grads

Computer science and engineering are the highest-paid disciplines

Nov 18, 2016

The average salary for this year's bachelor's degree graduates is up 3.8 percent compared with the Class of 2015, according to preliminary pay findings in a new report. The results suggest a tightening labor market.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Fall 2016 Salary Survey report shows that the overall average salary for the Class of 2016 is $52,569, versus the average salary of $50,651 reported for the Class of 2015 last fall. That increase is well beyond the inflation rate—consumer prices in the U.S. were up 1.6 percent year-on-year in October 2016.

The findings based on early returns to NACE's Class of 2016 First-Destination Survey, and so the starting salaries reported here should be considered early indicators.

Driving the overall salary increase are the reported salaries for graduates who earned bachelor's degrees in the computer sciences—the highest-paid degree in the report—followed by engineering graduates.

Pay for math and statistics graduates, however, saw the highest year-over-year increase, rising almost 16 percent.

Top-Paid Majors for Class of 2016 Bachelor's Degree Graduates

Category 2016 Average Salary 2015 Average Salary Percent Change
Computer and Information Sciences$71,534$65,849+8.6%
Mathematics and Statistics$62,985$54,485+15.6%
Liberal Arts and Humanities$53,732$50,116+7.2%

Source: Fall 2016 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

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Business Disciplines

Among the business disciplines, management information systems graduates are the highest-paid this year, having an average starting salary of $63,310—well above the overall average for the group. Actuarial science, construction management, economics, finance and logistics/supply chain graduates also have starting salaries that exceed the overall average for business graduates, the report revealed.

Accounting graduates have an average starting salary of $52,163, which falls below the overall business group average by about 3 percent.

The data, provided by 38 colleges and universities nationwide, were collected from July 25 through Sept. 12 and represent actual starting salary data for Class of 2016 graduates through June 2016.

Graduate Hiring Trends

Employers plan to hire 5.8 percent more new graduates for their U.S. operations during 2016-17 than they did in 2015-16, according to NACE's Job Outlook 2017 survey, conducted from Aug. 5 through Oct. 4, 2016.

While employers initially anticipated hiring 11 percent more Class of 2016 college graduates, they ended the cycle instead with a 5.2 percent increase due, in part, to slower than expected economic growth.

Overall, fewer respondents to the 2017 survey anticipated hiring more new college graduates than was the case a year earlier: 36 percent versus 40 percent.

Related SHRM Article:

Salary Budgets Expected to Rise 3% in 2017, SHRM Online Compensation, July 2016


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