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Surveys show positive signs in the job market for graduating seniors.

Studies conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicate that hiring, recruiting and starting salaries are up across the board from last year, though the job market cannot expect to return to pre-recession levels for several years.

The average starting salary is up 3.5 percent, which indicates that there is “more competition for new hires,” director of Career Services Patricia Rose said.

“It’s probably more of a natural recovery than anything else,” said Edwin Koc, director of strategic and foundation research at NACE. “We looked back on the [2004] recession and the numbers related to college hiring, and the pattern is very similar in terms of the turnaround.”

Career Services has likewise seen increased hiring activity.

According to Rose, increased numbers of On-Campus Recruiting interviews as well as higher employer turnout at career fairs are promising indicators, though survey data on Penn’s Class of 2011 will not be compiled until next fall.

According to Koc, the job market for new graduates is increasing faster than the overall job market.

“New college hires tend to be relatively cheap replacements for professional employees that were let go,” he said. “The market’s improving and there’s a need to bring back certain employment levels, so you might as well go with new people in the marketplace.”

Though NACE’s data show overall improvement — with the exception of government jobs — certain industries have fared better than others.

For example, there is high demand for information and technology workers, Rose said.

“Newly trained computer scientists are in demand,” she said. “Someone who has been out of school for some time who doesn’t know the latest programming languages will have a harder time.”

Financial institutions are likewise “back in a big way,” Rose said.

Still, due to budget cuts, state and local governments are actually doing worse than in years prior, Koc said.

If the recovery pattern echoes that of the recession in 2004, the market could recover fully by 2014. However, Koc believes 2017 is a more realistic projection.

One challenge to recovery is the fact that the market must grow considerably each year to absorb increasing numbers of college graduates into the work force, Koc said. Growth of 5 to 6 percent will only maintain current employment levels.

A further obstacle is the fact that new graduates will be competing with graduates from the classes of 2009 and 2010, who are still looking to enter the workforce, though Koc said those older classes will likely struggle more without the aid of OCR.

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