The Hay Group division of Korn Ferry, a management consulting firm based in Los Angeles, recently released a study that contained some very exciting news for the graduating class of 2017. Through their research, they estimate that the latest group of college grads will be earning an average of $49,785 annually. This number has jumped 3% since last year and a shocking 14% since 2007 (right before the Great Recession made it nearly impossible for new grads to earn a living wage).


What does this mean for recent college grads?

Good news grads! This is an ideal time to be entering the real world! Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that last month unemployment was the lowest that it has been in 16 years at 4.3%, and Seattle’s unemployment rate has dropped to a startling 2.9% this spring?! These unemployment stats, coupled with the average salary increase for the class of 2017, should inspire you to find a career that will not only help you to pay off all of that student debt, but will also provide you with the means to get out of your parents’ basement. Keep in mind that while those who graduated with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degree will be making more than many of their peers, the increase in wages for recent college grads is across the board. As you apply for jobs, don’t forget to research wages in your area and your field to ensure that you don’t miss out on these wage increases by accepting a compensation package that is outdated.

What does this mean for companies that are hiring?

For companies that are hiring, this new information boils down to needing to stay competitive (or become competitive) in their hiring practices. According to Korn Ferry Futurestep, one way to become competitive in your hiring practices is to hire interns between their junior and senior years and extend job offers to the top interns months before graduation. By doing this, you can prevent your top interns from interviewing for other companies who may be able to offer more attractive compensation packages. While this method of hiring is often successful, chances are that you won’t be exclusively hiring from your intern pool; therefore, it is necessary to offer impressive compensation packages to candidates who have the potential to really excel in your company, especially if you are located in an area like Seattle where the cost of living may dissuade candidates from working for you. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive in your attempts to acquire the best and brightest talent coming out of colleges across the country by offering them a fair wage, getting them invested in the culture of your company, explaining the advancement opportunities available within the company, and selling them on the fringe benefits that your company offers.


With starting salaries on the rise, 2017 grads have a huge reason to celebrate (in addition to receiving their diploma). While the increase in average salaries is exciting, it is important that these recent grads remember that just because the average salary has increased, there’s no room to sit back and relax. Hard work and dedication are necessary to maintain, and eventually increase, their earnings.