May 15, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

As millions of students prepare to turn their tassels during graduation ceremonies all over the United States, many are wondering what the future will hold. And while no one has a crystal ball, a recent report from CNBC yields new insights into what 2018’s crop of graduates can expect from the job market. Here’s a closer look.

Higher Salaries…

First, the good news. According to data provided by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduates can expect higher salaries. In fact, across all 10 degree categories spanning from business to the humanities, newly minted grads can look forward to better offers. Another boon? Unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been in 17 years.

...But Fewer Prospects

The job outlook isn’t entirely sunny, however. CNBC further reveals that as salaries have risen, job prospects have declined. According to the NACE, employers say they’ll hire 1.3 percent fewer grads from this year’s graduating class than from last year’s. This also represents the first decrease in hiring since 2010.

It’s important to note, however, that the decline is not unilateral. Insurance and retail companies, in particular, are cutting back on hiring, which has spurred the decrease in overall numbers. Not only are more than half of employers across all industries planning on maintaining their hiring numbers, but 43 percent plan on increasing hires in the upcoming year. The takeaway? While the numbers may be disheartening at first glance, the reality is more reassuring.

The Student Loan Burden

Until you factor in skyrocketing college loan balances, that is. With average outstanding debts of more than $34,100, today’s graduates have their (rightful) share of concerns about their future financial stability with many believing that their student loans will impact timelines for everything from buying a home to having children. Meanwhile, a whopping 11 percent of recent graduates don’t believe they’ll ever be able to retire, according to CNBC.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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