Posted May 13, 2019 by

Salary Statistics and What They Mean to You

First, the good news: The unemployment rate in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been since 2001, and the percentage of prime working age adults who are employed is the highest it’s been since 2008.1 Though this improvement in the job market hasn’t been consistent across all industries, job functions and regions, there appears to be an overall improvement.

While this is undoubtedly positive for both graduates seeking jobs and the economy, it presents a few challenges for agencies and employers, particularly small to mid-sized companies. Many positions are getting harder to fill and candidates now have more choices, and therefore, increased bargaining power, often giving larger employers an advantage.

Though location, benefits, flexible hours and work environment are important factors in a career decision, salary is still ranked as the most important influence. A recent survey by Glassdoor shows that 67 percent of job seekers pay attention to salary when scanning job ads, more than any other piece of information on a position.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered some statistics on average starting salaries for 2018 graduates to help with your recruiting efforts this year.

Average Starting Salary Projections by Discipline/Bachelor’s Degree for the Class of 20181

1. Engineering $66,521 +less than 1% over last year
2. Computer Science $66,005 +less than 1% over last year
3. Math & Sciences $61,867 (Physics – $69,900) +4.2% over last year
4. Business $56,720 (Marketing – $62,634) +3.5% over last year
5. Social Sciences $56,689 +6% over last year
6. Humanities $56,688 +16.3% over last year
7. Agricultures & Natural Resources $53,565 no information available
8. Communications $51,448 -less than 1% versus last year

 

According to NACE’s Winter 2018 Salary Survey report, students earning engineering, computer science, and math and science degrees are not only expected to be the highest-paid graduates at the bachelor’s-degree level but will also be in the highest demand.

WHAT’S LOCATION GOT TO DO WITH IT?

While an entry-level Software Engineer in the San Francisco Bay area can expect an average salary of $109,3502, the same position in Michigan has an average starting salary of $64,544.3 This is just one example of the often-sizable differences you’ll find in salaries based on geography. As you might expect, the two major factors that determine these variations are demand and cost-of-living.

States with the highest cost-of-living, such as Washington D.C. and California must adjust salaries upward in order to provide “livable compensation” and attract talent, while states with lower cost-of-living, such as Mississippi and Arkansas will typically offer less in for the same position.

States with the Highest Cost-of-Living

  1. Hawaii
  2. Washington D.C.
  3. New York
  4. California
  5. New Jersey
  6. Maryland
  7. Connecticut
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Alaska
  10. New Hampshire

Source: The Motley Fool, “15 States with the Highest Cost of Living,”
Christy Bieber, July 5, 2018.

Demand for a particular job also affects salaries. In fact, job availability is a major factor for candidates when determining where to live. Based on research by U.S. World News and Report, the states with the highest overall job growth are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. North Dakota
  3. Colorado
  4. Utah
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Nebraska
  7. Minnesota
  8. Iowa
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Wisconsin

Of course, these rankings refer to overall employment. Demand for specific jobs may differ by state, as well. For example, web developers and solar panel installers are in high demand in California, while Ohio is looking for more registered nurses to fill open positions.                            


SAME OCCUPATION, DIFFERENT PAY?

In addition to geography, the salary for a particular job can differ dramatically. The most obvious reason is that no job is exactly the same, even if a position has a similar job title. Variations in job responsibilities, company size and requirements all impact pay for jobs within the same occupation. The wider the variations, the greater the salary ranges. Some of the factors that affect salaries in the same occupation include:

Education/credentials: In many cases, jobs that require advanced degrees or professional certification earn more than others in the same occupation who don’t expect these credentials. Employers who require more credentials typically offer higher salaries, even when the job title is the same.

Experience and skill: In general, the longer someone does a job, the more productive he or she becomes and can, therefore, command a higher salary for their expertise. Candidates who have in-demand skills also may earn more.

Industry or employer: Salaries for the same or similar job titles often vary by industry and employer due to working conditions, type of clientele, training requirements, and demand.

Job responsibilities: Not all Marketing Managers are created equal! There are wide variations in job responsibilities under certain job titles. In major corporations, for instance, this position may require managing a large department and a very generous budget, while smaller enterprises will have fewer people to oversee, smaller budgets and comparatively less responsibilities.

Competition and performance: Some occupations are extremely competitive, and therefore, must offer higher salaries to attract the most successful employees. Workers whose pay depends on their job performance also might have very high wages.

The occupations with the biggest differences in salaries/wages are:4

  • Arts, entertainment and sports
  • Healthcare
  • Management
  • Sales, business, and financial
  • Science, math, and engineering

As you look to recruit talent in 2019 and beyond, knowing what salary to offer based on your industry, job demand, geography and job requirements can help you attract and place the best candidates for every position.


1National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 2018 Winter Salary Survey
2PayScale, 2018.
3Indeed.com, 2018.
4U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.

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