Things are looking up for new college graduates. Unemployment is at an all-time low, and starting salaries are rising, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

Entry-level salaries on average increased 3 percent to $49,785 a year ago, marking the highest amount of the average base pay for college graduates in a decade.The analysis was conducted by Korn/Ferry International, an executive-search firm in Los Angeles.

Naturally, STEM graduates--those entering the science and technology fields--are at the top of the list when it comes to a promising pay: starting salaries in software-development roles climbed 5 percent in the past year to $65,232, and engineers are expected to earn $63,036 on average, a 1 percent increase. The next in line? Actuaries, with $59,212, and entry-level scientists and researchers, with $58,773.

After adjusting for inflation, salaries in 2017 are 14 percent higher than those of students who graduated 10 years ago before recession. In terms of location, jobs in San Francisco and New York are more likely to give higher paychecks than ones in other major cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta, according to the Korn/Ferry research.

Although the unemployment rate is the lowest value since 2007, some graduates still have a hard time finding a job. Citing an Accenture survey of 1,000 college seniors, the Journal report noted that just 15 percent of college seniors received job offers before graduating.

Even so, news about higher entry-level salaries is no doubt music to new grads' ears, even as employers are more likely less enthusiastic. Amid already stiff competition for new workers, a hike in starting salaries may dig into their already over-stretched budgets. The good news? Millennials are still keen on low-cost perks such as flexible work arrangements and being able to form meaningful relationships with managers and colleagues.

Published on: May 12, 2017