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Average Starting Salary for Class of 2011 Up 3.5%
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — For the first time since 2008, a college class is beginning the year with an average starting salary offer that is on the rise, according to results of a new survey conducted by the National Assoc. of Colleges and Employers (NACE). The overall average salary offer to a class of 2011 bachelor’s-degree graduate is $50,034, up 3.5% over last year at this time, according to NACE’s Winter 2011 Salary Survey report. For the Class of 2011, this is the latest sign of improvement in the college job market. Employers responding to an earlier NACE study reported plans to increase their college hiring of the class of 2011 by 13.5% over the previous year, and monthly polls conducted by NACE show hiring remains in positive territory. While not all categories of majors posted increases to their average salary offers, the increases seen in the Winter 2011 Salary Survey report far outweigh the decreases. That’s a significant improvement over last year at this time. Currently, 67% of disciplines posting a change this year are showing an increase. Last year, the opposite was true, as 63% of disciplines indicating a change to staring salary offers were projecting them to be decreases. Among the disciplines in the Winter 2011 Salary Survey report, business majors fared the best; their average offer rose almost 2% to $48,089. Accounting majors saw their average salary offer rise 2.2% to $49,022, and the average offer to finance majors rose 1.9% to $50,535. Business administration/management graduates saw a slight decrease to their average starting salary offer, which fell 2.3% to $44,171. Meanwhile, the average offer to marketing majors dipped by 1.3% to $41,948. Among the technical disciplines, computer-science majors posted a small increase; their average salary offer rose almost 1% to $61,783. Salary offers to engineering graduates as a group remained nearly level — a 0.3% increase to $59,435 — but some of the individual majors fared far better. Electrical-engineering majors saw their average salary offer jump 4.4% to $61,690, while mechanical-engineering graduates also saw a healthy increase — 3.8% — for an average salary offer of $60,598. Conversely, chemical-engineering and civil-engineering majors saw their average salary offers fall. The average offer to chemical-engineering graduates dipped by 0.8% to $64,641. Meanwhile, civil-engineers fared worst among their engineering peers; their average offer dropped 7.1% to $48,885. Data is limited for liberal-arts majors, but, as a group, their average offer is up 9.5% to $35,633. This is in sharp contrast to last year, when they watched their average offer fall almost 11%. The Winter 2011 Salary Survey report is the first look at salaries for the Class of 2011. NACE will continue to monitor salary offers to the current class and will release its next salary report in April with the Spring 2011 Salary Survey.

Employers Needed for Youth Summer Jobs Campaign
SPRINGFIELD — The Regional Employment Board (REB) of Hampden County Inc., will host its fourth annual Employer Outreach Breakfast on March 25, 7:30 to 9 a.m., at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, One Monarch Place. The event launches Youth Summer Jobs Campaign 2011, spearheaded by the REB, FutureWorks and CareerPoint one-stop career centers, and the YMCA of Greater Springfield. Last year 158 employers across Hampden County were involved in putting 1,100 youth to work, and organizers are hoping to broaden their base of employers this year. Businesses can get involved by hiring youth, donating money, or becoming a work site. Pre-registration is required for the free event that will outline how businesses can help a young person this summer. For more information, contact Kathryn Kirby at (413) 755-1359 or [email protected].

Agency Purchases Paramount Theater
SPRINGFIELD — The Paramount Theater, a historic Main Street property, has been purchased by the nonprofit New England Farm Workers Council. A check for $54,000 was recently delivered by Paramount co-owner Steven Stein to the city’s License Commission to pay off a delinquent tax bill, paving the way for the purchase of the building, according to Heriberto Flores, council president. Stein is co-owner with Michael Barrasso of Paramount Realty Investment LLC. With the sale now complete, both men will remain at Paramount for several months, ensuring a smooth transition, added Flores. Flores noted that the Paramount purchase was privately funded and did not involve public funding. Future development at the Paramount by the nonprofit agency includes touring stage productions and national musical acts, in addition to focusing more on local talent, added Flores.

February Jobs Growth Shows Some Strength 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report of a 192,000 February increase in payrolls shows employment has rebounded from a disappointing start to 2011, according to the Conference Board. The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. While the increase in employment continues to lag the pickup in the broader economy, the Conference Board notes it is “encouraging” to see the job numbers moving in the right direction. It was also noted that, once officials account for the recovery from January’s weather effect, February’s gains hardly suggest an acceleration relative to the slow trend of about 100,000 jobs per month during the second half of 2010. The Conference Board concluded that, assuming an aggregate productivity trend, including government, of about 1.5%, the economy would need to grow well beyond 3% in order to double the trend to an average of 200,000 jobs over the next couple of months. With a shrinking government, a stagnant construction sector, and a small manufacturing base, only consumer spending can generate that kind of improvement in hiring, the Conference Board added.

Improved Job Prospects Trump Rising Prices
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Consumer confidence rose to its highest level in three years in February, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment. Higher-income households were responsible for all of the February gain over the prior month. The Sentiment Index rose by 9.7% among households with incomes above $75,000, but fell by 1.4% among lower-income households. The difference was due to more-favorable job and income prospects among upper-income households. Also, news about recent economic developments was much more favorable than any time in the past six years. Greater job gains dominated the news, and consumers anticipated significant gains in employment during the year ahead. The favorable job news completely dominated rising concerns about higher food and fuel prices. The Sentiment Index was 77.5 in the February 2011 survey, up from 74.2 in January and last February’s 73.6. The February reading was the highest since 78.4 was recorded in January 2008. The February gains were concentrated in the Current Conditions Index, which rose to 86.9 from 81.8 in January and last February. The Expectations Index, a component of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators, rose to 71.6 in February from 69.3 in January and last February’s 68.4. The minimum monthly change required for significance at the 95% level in the Sentiment Index is 4.8 points; for the Current and Expectations Index, the minimum is 6.0 points.

Tax Cut Fails to Boost Economy In Early 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released data on personal income and outlays for January, noting personal income increased 1.0%, exceeding private-sector expectations of a 0.4% rise. Wages and salaries, the largest component of income, rose 0.3%, perhaps hampered by more severe than usual weather in some parts of the country. Real consumer spending edged down 0.1% in January but has already risen 0.8% at an annual rate above its fourth-quarter average. U.S. Commerce Department Chief Economist Mark Doms noted that personal income surged in January, largely as a result of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act. Doms added that, by lowering employee contributions for Social Security, workers have more take-home pay. This increased spending capacity should boost the U.S. economy and employment in 2011, he added. In other news, the Commerce Department recently released the second estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2010. Real GDP grew 2.8% at an annual rate, less than expectations and revised down from the 3.2% advance estimate. The downward revision reflects a wider trade deficit, reduced state and local government spending, and lower personal consumption. Doms noted that the U.S. economy is continuing to expand, with increased growth at the end of 2010 and further strengthening expected in early 2011. Doms added that steps taken by the Obama administration to create jobs and help U.S. businesses grow, including the Middle Class Tax Relief Act, should encourage continued economic expansion.

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