GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- According to statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor, last month's unemployment rate of 8.2% is the lowest it's been since January of 2009.
As unemployment numbers continue to drop, the job outlook for college grads is increasing. This comes as good news for millions of new grads getting ready to enter the workforce, especially those in Michigan where anxieties have been particularly high.
"The economy over the past couple of years has been very difficult," said Troy Farley, director of career services at Grand Valley State University.
But things are looking better. A recent study released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers suggests employers are likely to hire ten percent more new college grads this year compared to last.
The weeks and months before graduation are without a doubt one one of the most important times of a college student's life. And with graduation just weeks away for so many schools, like GVSU, it's a time when one thing takes precedence over all. And that is finding a job.
"I was pretty nervous. There are not a lot of jobs for specifically creative writing," said Meghan McAfee, who graduated from GVSU in 2011 with a degree in creative writing."
McAfee is still looking for full-time employment.
"I think having skills as a writer and a communications major helped me find some sort of job after college. I started working at an office where I was just doing e-mails and stuff like that," she said. "Right now I'm still doing more unpaid things, like more volunteer experience. But they pay in experience so i can put it on my resume."
Farley says having that experience is half the battle because employers are more likely to invest in grads who have demonstrated skills.
"A good internship can lead to a full time position," said Farley. "Normally a student gets an internship, works a semester and then it's over. Now the trend we see is they do an internship as a junior and when it's over that company says, 'Hey, why not stay and work with us part time?'"
More often than not, if the student performs well, that company will offer a permanent job upon graduation.
Dave Hoatlin, also a GVSU Class of 2011 grad, says that was very similar to his experience.
"I was really lucky actually, I kind of came down to the wire in getting an internship," he said about getting an internship at Herman Miller a month before graduation. "For me, it was very valuable. My boss really liked the work I was doing on and they ended up hiring me on the spot at the end of the internship."
McAfee, also landed a last minute internship. Although hers didn't lead to a job, she doesn't regret the experience.
"You kind of have to pay your dues before you get paid anything else," she said.
NACE says, nationally, employers converted 58.6% of their Class of 2011 interns into full-time hires.
Farley tells his students attending job fairs is another way to make progress in their job searches.
"One of the things we are seeing is more recruiting taking place. We had a career fair February and had record attendance," he said. "We had 165 companies representing over 1,200 internships or full time positions. That was significantly higher than last year."
Hoatlin says "It is tough to put yourself out there to career fairs and stuff like that to actually take that step forward and commit to finding a real job. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. You don't know where you are going to end up. Just apply to any place you think you might be a fit."
Farley expects job placement numbers to hit somewhere upwards of 90 percent. Both he and his former and current students are encouraged by the current job outlook and signs that the economy is improving.
"It is really encouraging," said McAfee. "It's about time. Absolutely. Michigan needs it."
NACE also reports the overall median salary for new grads is up nearly five percent to more than $42,000.
Engineering, computer science, business and health services continue to be the fields offering the biggest paychecks.