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Recent Study Suggests MBA Job Prospects May Brighten in 2012

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Despite a U.S. economy that has been mostly sluggish for more than three years now, there may be reason to believe 2012 will be when the job market finally turns the corner. A new poll of hiring managers by GMAC revealed that most of them plan to increase or maintain their number of new hires in 2012 vs. 2011.

The GMAC poll covered 229 hiring managers at 216 companies worldwide. The poll compares these companies’ hiring in 2011 to their expected level of hiring in the coming year, including hiring of MBA graduates as well as grads from other master’s-level business programs. While the results do not paint a 100% rosy picture, the news seems better than it has been in the past couple of years.

To quote a release put out by GMAC:

In general, 74 percent of companies polled plan to hire MBAs next year, compared with just 57 percent of companies had planned to hire MBAs in 2011. Additionally, 22 percent of all companies plan to hire more MBAs in 2012 than they did in 2011.

Similarly, 59 percent of employers polled plan to hire specialized business master’s graduates, and 51 percent plan to hire master in management graduates in 2012. Those proportions are up from just 38 percent and 35 percent who planned to hire in those respective categories in 2011.

Between a quarter and a third of companies plan to increase base salaries and roughly two-thirds plan to keep salaries similar to 2011 levels. Of the companies planning to hire MBA grads, about a third plan to increase base salary. On the internship front things are also looking better: More than 20% of companies plan to increase the number of internships they offer in 2012.

While this all sounds great, you may wonder how accurate a poll like this can be. After all, no one thought that the housing market would sink as low as it did, or that Europe’s debt situation would threaten to shake the already-weak world economy. The good news, however, is that the estimates in last year’s poll were quite pretty good: GMAC reports that the poll was 93% to 96% accurate when compared with actual numbers from 2011. So, after some fits and starts, the job market may finally be looking up!

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