ECO Article: Employer Hiring Updates for the Class of 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

From the National Association of Colleges and Employers, NACE Job Outlook 2022

ABOUT THE SURVEY The Job Outlook survey is a forecast of hiring intentions of employers as they relate to new college graduates. Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys its employer members about their hiring plans and other employment-related issues to project the market for new college graduates for the current class and to assess a variety of conditions that may influence that market. Data for the Job Outlook 2022 survey were collected from August 18, 2021, through October 1, 2021. Of the 157 total respondents, 116 were NACE employer members, representing 15.7% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2022 survey was also distributed to nonmember companies from which an additional 41 responses were received. Of the total that responded, 5.7% are from New England, 9.6% are from the Southwest, 16.6% are from the Southeast, 15.9% are from the Rocky Mountain/Far West, 8.3% are from the Plains, 14% are from the Mideast, and 29.9% are from the Great Lakes. For additional information about the respondents, see the Appendix. Data are calculated based on the number of respondents to each specific question. Totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.  Be sure to check out the last few bullets regarding internships!


  • Employers plan to hire 26.6% more new graduates from the Class of 2022 than they did from the Class of 2021. The data NACE collected in its Job Outlook 2022 survey appear to be in line with job opening trends in general. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report identifies more than 10 million job openings in the United States for August 2021. This is a 62% increase over the numbers for August 2020 (6.5 million) and a 42% increase over August 2019 (7.3 million), the last prepandemic year

  • Almost 60% of respondents have plans to increase hires this year and approximately 37% expect to maintain their number of new college graduate hires. Only the remaining 3.5% of respondents plan to decrease their number of college hires. In last year’s Job Outlook 2021 survey, only 16.5% of respondents planned to increase hires, 52.5% planned to maintain hiring numbers, and 31% had plans to decrease their number of hires.
  • There has been a shift in how employers rate the overall job market. The largest group of respondents (48.6%) rate the overall job market for 2021-22 graduates as “very good.” Last year, the largest group (51.7%) rated the overall job market for 2020-21 graduates as “fair.” In addition, 14.1% of respondents rate the overall job market for 2021-22 graduates as “excellent,” which is up from just 0.5% that gave the same rating to last year’s job market.
  • Employers continue to conduct most of their college recruiting in the fall for both full-time and intern hires. They report conducting their recruiting at a 66% fall/34% spring split for full-time hires and a 67% fall/33% spring split for intern hires.
  • Hiring by industry shows increases across the board. Of the industries with at least five respondents, the information sector is reporting the largest increase of 83%. All other sectors report fairly large double-digit increases, with construction employers reporting the smallest increase in hiring (6.8%).
  • In terms of individual respondents, 76.9% of employers from the information sector will increase hires and the remaining 23.1% will maintain hires. No respondents from this sector will decrease hires.
  • The only three industries with respondents reporting plans to decrease hires are utilities (16.7%), construction (12.5%), and miscellaneous professional services (11.1%).
  • Job market ratings by industry are all “good” or better. On a five-point scale ranging from “poor” to ”excellent,” the lowest rating comes from utilities, but falls between “good” and “very good.” The highest rating comes from the finance, insurance, and real estate industry.
  • Employers located in the Southwest region are more than doubling their new graduate hires, reporting an overall increase of 111.5%. The smallest increase in college graduate hiring is in the Plains region, where respondents are only hiring 3.5% more new graduates in 2021-22 than they did in 2020-21.
  • The Plains region also has the biggest group of respondents (8.3%) that will decrease hires for the 2021-22 academic year.
  • Almost 41% of respondents have plans to hire two-year, associate degree graduates. This is the highest percentage in terms of respondents hiring these graduates over the past seven years. The lowest level was reported for the Class of 2017, when just 12.3% of respondents planned to hire two-year, associate degree graduates.
  • Almost three-quarters of responding employers have plans to increase starting salaries for bachelor’s degree graduates. This percentage represents the highest level across the past eight years. The lowest level was last year, when just 42.3% of respondents reported that they would increase starting salaries for Class of 2021 graduates who earned bachelor’s degrees.
  • Slightly more than half of respondents will offer signing bonuses to Class of 2022 graduates. In addition, just half of these same respondents actually offered signing bonuses to Class of 2021 graduates. 
  • The overall average signing bonus for bachelor’s degree graduates is $5,881. By major, computer engineering graduates will be offered the largest signing bonuses at an average of $7,800.
  • Just 46.3% of respondents indicate they will screen candidates from the Class of 2022 by GPA. This continues a downward trend for the practice and represents the lowest percentage of use by employers yet.
  • Employers in the utilities industry (100%), Southwest region (64.3%), and size category of 10,001 to 20,000 employees (68.2%) will be the most likely to screen candidates by GPA. All three of these groups will use a median GPA cutoff of 3.0.
  • Responding employers indicate that critical thinking and communication are the most important career readiness competencies.
  • In terms of proficiency in the career readiness competencies, employers rate recent graduates as “very proficient” in only one area: technology.
  • When comparing employer importance ratings to their proficiency ratings of recent college graduates, the largest gaps are seen in the two competencies that employers deem most important: critical thinking and communication.
  • The top attributes that employers are seeking on candidate resumes are problem-solving skills (85.5% of respondents), analytical/quantitative skills (78.6%), and the ability to work in a team (76.3 %).
  • When choosing between two otherwise equally qualified candidates, having an internship with the particular employer’s organization or internship experience in the same industry are the most influential factors for employers.