(NEW YORK) Hiring is back in a big way on many college campuses, one of several signs a recovery in the US jobs market is gaining traction. After four years during which many students graduated to find no job and had only their loans to show for their studies, most college campuses are teeming with companies eager to hire.

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (Nace) found 2012 hiring is expected to climb 10.2 per cent, above a previous estimate of 9.5 per cent. Companies such as General Electric, Amazon, Apple and Barclays Global are looking for new staff, even if some firms remain below the pre-recession levels of new hiring.

In another sign of the recovery, some first-time job seekers are receiving multiple offers. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has seen up to now a 7.4 per cent increase in the number of interviews of students by potential employers from last year and the number of companies seeking to recruit for full-time jobs is up 9.2 per cent.

Undergraduate business majors reporting full-time job offers is up about 10 per cent.

Career experts at a dozen of US schools said they have seen an increase of 15 to 30 per cent in the number of companies attending campus career fairs. At University of Florida, the autumn career fair garnered 15 per cent more companies in attendance than in 2010. And 150 companies asked to conduct interviews versus about 100 in recent years, said Ja'Net Glover, associate director of employer relations at the school.

The increase in demand was so significant that it was the first time in years the school had to use both the first and second floors of the school's basketball facility for interviews. 'It's kind of like a no-brainer,' says Kathy Sims, director of career services at the University of California, Los Angeles. 'The economy is better and the college recruitment market is improving.'

While the US jobless rate fell to 8.3 per cent in February, unemployment among college graduates over the age of 25 stood at 4.2 per cent. Historically, their jobless rate is half that of Americans with only a high school education.

Over the recession, unemployment among graduates climbed as high as 5 per cent, sparking protests over the rising tuition cost of some US colleges.

US unemployment data for March, due for release on April 6, is expected to show a total of just over 200,000 jobs were created in the month, keeping the overall unemployment rate at 8.3 per cent. College graduates' earnings are also on the rebound.

Nace says the median wage for first-time job seekers after college for 2012 is up 4.5 per cent higher than a year ago to US$42,569.

That initial pay level can resonate over the span of a career. Several studies show that the lifetime earnings for workers who enter the labour force at time of economic recession are lower than lifetime earnings of those who are hired amid an economic recovery.

The pick-up in hiring extends to industries that were among the hardest hit during the financial crisis.

Schools report that banking and financial services companies have returned to campus for the Class of 2012. It's a stark contrast from just a few years ago when smaller firms appeared on campuses to replace the corporations no longer showing up. - Reuters