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2014 liberal arts majors share in good employment news for college graduates

Sandy Clingman

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2014 Spring Update last month showed "employers plan to hire 8.6 percent more Class of 2014 graduates than they hired from the Class of 2013." Accounting, Business, Engineering and Computer Science graduates garnered the most interest.

But liberal arts majors made their own news in the NACE 2014 Student Survey released yesterday. The improvement in actual job offers to graduating seniors from 45.9 percent in 2013 to 47.9 percent in 2014 "appears to be totally located among students majoring in ...the liberal arts and sciences and education."

The survey proclaims that visual and performing arts students outshone the group with 15.4 percentage points better than for the class of 2013, with education (11.5), communications (9.5), environmental science (7.5) and mathematics (6.5) majors also improving.

This good news for liberal arts majors complements a report earlier this year from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), How Liberal Arts Majors Fare in Employment, which found that in the long run, graduates in liberal arts have earnings above professional and pre-professional majors (although do fall below the salaries of mathematics and hard sciences majors.) Additionally, unemployment rates are low at 5.2 percent for recent graduates, and decline over time to 3.5 percent for mature workers.

"As the findings in this report demonstrate, majoring in a liberal arts field can and does lead to successful and remunerative careers in a wide array of professions," commented AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.

The authors of the report, Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly, found that "93% of employers agree that candidates' demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major."

Critical thinking, clear communication and problem-solving ability: exactly the skills that are grounded in a liberal arts education.

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