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Jobs outlook for graduates looking better

She doesn't have a job yet, but Kelly Petitjean, who will graduate from the University of Pittsburgh on Sunday, has reason to be hopeful.

A report published this month by The National Association of Colleges and Employers reveals that employers expect to hire 5.3 percent more college grads this year than last year.

"This is good news," said Cheryl S. Finlay, director of Pitt's Office of Student Employment and Placement Assistance. "We're encouraged."

The report's conclusions represent a significant reversal from last year's numbers, which showed employers planned to hire 22 percent fewer grads than in 2008.

"Companies are starting to have more positions available for new graduates," said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for the association, based in Bethlehem in Northampton County.

The association conducted the survey among its employer members between March 1 and April 9. About 20 percent, or 177 employers, participated. Members include PPG Industries, Amazon and global security firm Northrop Grumman.

Particularly promising industries include manufacturing and information, which reported expected hiring increases of 59.2 percent and 41.4 percent, respectively, according to the survey.

Petitjean, 22, originally from Milwaukee, plans to land a temporary job until something comes her way, she said. Despite searching for three months for a position in wealth management or corporate finance, her efforts have yielded nothing.

"I'm assuming there are lots of applicants," Petitjean said.

What might help Petitjean is that she lives in the region -- the Northeast -- that the report identified as having the highest projected increase in hiring, 25.5 percent.

Kate Mulcahy and Christopher Lee, who will graduate May 16 from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, have jobs at Citigroup in New York beginning later this summer.

"I had senior friends last year who had so much trouble" finding employment, said Mulcahy, 22, of McCandless. "This year, more people knew they had a job and knew at an earlier time."

"We got hired in October," said Lee, 21, of Los Angeles.

Still, like many across the country, Pitt's Maxfield Applegate chose to attend graduate school next year because he felt that finding work would be difficult.

"I thought maybe after a couple more years things might be looking better," said Applegate, 22, a film studies major who will graduate Sunday.

He plans to enter a master's program in secondary education next fall at Chatham University.

Additional Information:

Where are the jobs?

GREATEST GROWTH

Industry: Percent change

• Manufacturing: 59.2

• Information: 41.4

• Oil & Gas Extraction: 32

• Construction: 28.9

LEAST GROWTH

Industry: Percent change

• Engineering Services: -35.3

• Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: -27.7

• Government: -3.4

• Finance, Insurance & Real Estate: -2.2

Source: The National Association of Colleges and Employers

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