Job growth is up, and companies are hiring recent college graduates for higher pay this year.

The thought of landing a median-income job straight out of school has seemed like a pipe dream for the past 10 years — but not for the graduating class of 2017. They actually stand a chance.

A survey from CareerBuilder, shows almost three quarters of employers plan to hire recent college graduates, and half are offering higher pay than last year — even if they’re concerned millennials won’t be prepared for the workforce.

“In the current environment, where job unemployment continues to decrease and there’s continued competition for sought-after skills, employers are especially attracted to college graduates, and the fresh perspective and skills they can bring to the workforce,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

How much can recent grads expect to make?

The majority of hiring employers plan to offer them a starting salary of at least $50,000 this year.

  • 39 percent: $50,000 and higher
  • 23 percent: $30,000
  • 21 percent: $30,000 to less than $40,000
  • 18 percent: $40,000 to less than $50,000

Hiring rates may be up, but employers are concerned that recent graduates will lack the real world experience needed to get the job done. The majority of employers say their main concerns hiring recent grads are they’ll lack people and problem solving skills, and there is “too much emphasis on book learning instead of real-world learning.”

To bridge the gap between school life and the real world, companies have been recruiting job candidates while they are still in college this year. Almost half of employers start recruiting during senior year.

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Rates for hiring college interns and entry level jobs increased this year over seven percent from last year. That’s a huge improvement compared to five years ago, when college students graduated school and entered a weak job market. Half of college graduates went jobless or underemployed, taking up jobs in the service industry and retail.

Even service industry and retail jobs with lower skill requirements are seeing an improvement across the board in pay.

This month, job site Glassdoor released its Local Pay Reports, showing the annual median base pay in the United States is up to $51,350 this year. Which means, half the country is making more than that, and half is making less. This is an increase from annual median base pay this time of year, last year.

“The job market continues to be fast-growing and we are seeing big gains for in salaries for jobs that are typically low-wage, like restaurant cook and customer service manager,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of Glassdoor.

Cashier jobs went up five percent and a median base pay of $27,582, store managers are up almost seven percent and are now at a median base pay of $48,848.

Where is the best place to look for a job this year?

California showed the highest rates of growth in pay out of most major metropolitan cities this year. Los Angeles had a 3.8 percent wage growth compared to 2016, and the median base pay is $59,639.

Earlier this month Indeed job site, released its top 25 list of best cities for U.S. job seekers. Sun Belt states like California, Florida and Texas had the strongest presence on the list. According to Indeed, “A stronger labor market affords many opportunities for job seekers right now and is allowing for more lifestyle considerations to influence their job search.”

“The Sun belt continues to be a region of high-growth and opportunity as companies and workers alike have moved toward strong markets,” said Paul D’Arcy, senior vice president at Indeed. “We have seen a migration trend where people are moving away from cold places looking to live in warm climate, so it is no surprise that we are seeing companies providing more job opportunities in Sun Belt cities like Miami, Austin, and San Diego.”

Aside from Los Angeles being the city with the highest increase in wage growth, three cities, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento made the top 25 best cities for job seekers list.

With the labor market improved, college grads won’t have to desperately jump at the first job offer they get in an area they’d hate to live.

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Article last modified on May 30, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Competing For College Grads - AMP.