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Wages Stagnant for Recent College Grads


The economy is humming, but recent college graduates aren’t quite reaping the benefits just yet, according to research from Korn Ferry. In the study, researchers analyzed salaries of 310,000 entry-level positions from nearly 1,000 organizations across the United States. Based on the analysis, 2018 college grads in the United States will make on average $50,390 annually. That is 2.8% more than the 2017 average ($49,000).

“With the 2018 U.S. inflation rate hovering just over 2%, real wages for this year’s grads are virtually flat,” said Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Maryam Morse. “However, with competition for top graduate talent so fierce, it’s critical that companies pay competitively, create an engaging culture and provide clear paths for advancement.”

Salary Differences in Selected Major Cities
The study includes an analysis of average college graduate salaries in 10 major cities across the United States. The average salaries by city (in alphabetical order) are:

























Los Angeles






New York






San Francisco


“Of course, the cost of living in some cities, like San Francisco and New York, is much higher than other parts of the nation, so it stands to reason that salaries would be higher, but regardless of location, it’s imperative that organizations start the recruiting process early to ensure they win top talent,” Morse said.

Snapshot of College Entry Roles
Here is a sample of 10 careers and corresponding average wages from the Korn Ferry analysis (in alphabetical order):













Call Center Specialist



Claims Examiner



Customer Service Rep.






Graphic Designer



Insurance Underwriter



Registered Nurse






Software Developer


“Graduates should keep in mind that averages can mask variations. For example, within STEM-related careers there are some specialized areas that pay significantly more than average,” Morse said. “Job seekers must still do their homework to understand fair pay for their location and area of expertise.”

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