Recent college graduates have taken it on the chin since the Great Recession hit. Not only have young adults lost tens of thousands of dollars in projected earnings over the next decade due to the nation's economic downturn, they also have faced stiff competition for the few available jobs.
At the same time, many older workers have delayed retirement, creating a logjam of new college grads searching for their first job opportunity.
But even with the recent abundance of bad news for college grads, the class of 2013 could see some glimmers of hope, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) "Job Outlook 2013" study.
Employers expect to hire 13 percent more new college grads from the class of 2013 than they did from the class of 2012, the study found. Those most likely to increase hiring of new college grads include employers in chemical/pharmaceutical manufacturing; computer and electronics manufacturing; retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; management consulting; and professional services.
"While employers are seeking graduates from a broad range of disciplines, this fall they expressed particular interest in hiring new graduates with business, computer science, and engineering-related degrees," said Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.
As the New Year approaches, here's a look ahead at four of the most sought-after bachelor's degrees for the class of 2013:
Looking to pursue a career in business? Good, because a degree in business administration offers something essential for landing a job in a today's economy: options.
This degree provides versatile training and expertise to launch careers in a range of areas, including state and local government, finance and insurance, compliance, communications and human resources.
Business administration also topped CareerBuilder's 2012 list of most in-demand college degrees, with 39 percent of hiring managers saying it was their most sought-after major of new college grads. As today's business environment grows more demanding and competitive, companies are expected to continue seeking new hires to help manage the evolving workload.
Not surprisingly, business administration is also one of the most popular majors, so young job seekers should expect stiff competition.
Computer and Information Sciences
To assess the job outlook for computer and information science graduates, look no further than Silicon Valley, the nation's hub of high-tech manufacturing.
Silicon Valley, which has the highest concentration of high-tech workers of any metro area in the United States, is projected to see positive hiring levels in the first quarter of 2013, according to a survey from the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based staffing agency West Valley Staffing Group.
Silicon Valley hiring managers project this year's healthy job growth to continue in 2013, with 89 percent predicting that hiring will increase or remain steady during the first quarter of next year, according to the survey.
"Based on the data that was collected, most Silicon Valley hiring managers are seeing employment levels holding steady," said Charlie Allport, executive vice president of West Valley Staffing Group. "This quarter's survey indicates that when it comes to hiring, we are looking at another solid quarter."
The hiring managers surveyed come from a range of industries, including high tech, manufacturing, electronics, finance, medical, aerospace and alternative energy. Meanwhile, only 11 percent of hiring managers expect demand to decrease next year.
Graduates with an accounting or finance degree who seek work as a financial advisor should find plentiful opportunities in 2013 and beyond.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial advisors are among the top 10 of growth occupations, as more Americans are seeking outside help when faced with decisions about college funding, estate planning, insurance, investments, retirement, taxes and wealth management.
The nation's high number of aging Baby Boomers seeking advice on retirement and estate planning is expected to continually drive demand for financial advisors.
Many industries lean heavily on their advertising, marketing, promotions, and public relations campaigns to drive the success of their businesses. Those with a marketing degree can pursue jobs in a variety of fields, which helps boost employability for entry-level jobs.
Overall employment in marketing fields is expected to increase by 13 percent through 2018, according to BLS data.
Entry-level marketing positions such as sales representatives, buyers, purchasing agents or product, advertising, promotions, or public relations personnel can open the door to future management roles. A business administration degree with an emphasis in marketing can also provide you with more opportunities for advancement.
Development of new technologies has also been a leading generator of marketing jobs in recent years, especially for those who can analyze the wealth of marketing data obtained through the Internet and mobile technologies.
Major job prospects in 4 disciplines
Major breakthrough (December 18, 2012)