Hiring About To Improve For MBA Grads, Salaries Not So Much

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The future is looking a bit brighter for business graduates.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is out with a new survey showing that more than three quarters of employers plan to hire new MBA graduates in 2013. This past year, just 69 percent of them hired graduates fresh out of business school.

Even though the hiring prospects are improving, one economist cautions it's still an employer's market. She says the new figures do not imply there is some kind of strengthening in the labor market.

"I would not take this as suggestions of a shift," said Ellen Zentner, Nomura Sr. Economist for the U.S. and Executive Director. "But, it underscores the grumblings on whether a college education is worth it or not because of the overwhelming cost of getting a higher education today. The important fact is that the unemployment rate is still lower for people with degrees."

Anticipated salary levels certainly bear this out. Fifty-six percent of companies that plan to hire new MBA graduates expect to offer starting annual base salaries either on pace with the rate of inflation (43 percent) or above it (13 percent).

Which, of course, indicates that at least 44 percent of employers think that they can meet their hiring goals while imposing inflation-adjusted salary reductions on new hires. As the economist types like to say, inflation-expectations remain muted.

If you are already working, there's optimistic data for you, too. Eighty-five percent of employers plan to hire experienced workers. That's three percent higher than 2012.

GMAC, a non-profit education organization, polled more than 200 employers worldwide for its annual Year-End Poll of Employers. The survey included 45 Fortune 500 companies.

The news comes as the nation's overall unemployment rate last month dropped to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.