It's a good time to be a college graduate.

Nationally, students donning caps and gowns this month are expected to be hired at higher rates and with better salaries.

And with unemployment low and other indicators up, South Carolina grads won't be an exception. 

"The job market is very comparable to last year, which was the best we had seen in over a decade," said Joey Von Nessen, a research economist with the University of South Carolina in Columbia. 

But by some measures, this year could be even better. Hiring for newly minted college grads is estimated to be up almost 11 percent this year compared to the spring of 2018, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

The last several years have been particularly strong for College of Charleston graduates, said Jim Allison, the director of the career center at the downtown school. 

"We're seeing some real record numbers," Allison said. 

With statewide unemployment holding at a historic low of 3.2 percent for the last eight months, companies have continued, and, in some cases, increased their recruitment efforts at South Carolina campuses. 

Before 2015, about 100 to 125 companies would come to the College of Charleston's campus to seek out potential hires, Allison said. More recently, it's been closer to 150 companies. This year, 140 employers were on campus in February alone between the school's annual career fair and its third German-American Business Summit.

Though they don't have the final count of companies for the 2018-19 school year yet, Allison said this year it's "obviously going to be higher."

Neil Burton, the director at Clemson University's Center for Career and Professional Development, said he's also continued to see strong interest from employers in recruiting on campus, especially from companies that are looking to hire students for internships and co-operative education programs. 

"Employers are looking for that edge," Burton said. 

About 99 percent of employers that responded to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Spring 2019 survey said they plan to participate in on-campus recruiting this upcoming fall, which is about 1.4 percent more than the year before. Of those, 83 percent said they would be hiring for full-time jobs as well as internships and co-ops. 

Allison also pointed to the College of Charleston's use of Handshake, an online job-posting forum for colleges and universities. Around 4,500 students have started using it since the college joined the roughly 700 other schools on the platform last year. 

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Companies apply to be included on the site, and jobs are screened by the career office. Students can then search for positions, filtering options for location, industry sector and job type. 

"We think the model is going to be really effective," said Allison, who noted that, on average, his office is adding about 50 new jobs to the platform every day. 

Nationally, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates — those aged 22 to 27 with a bachelor's degree or higher — was 3.7 percent in March, down just slightly from 3.8 percent in the same month last year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The unemployment rate for the same group was 3.6 percent last July through October, the lowest rate recent college graduates had seen in a decade. 

The percentage of recent grads working low wage jobs has also gone down slightly in the last year, from 13.4 percent in March 2018 to 12.2 percent in March of this year. 

Though job prospects for new graduates are strong, Von Nessen of USC noted that young professionals should be thinking about the changes occurring within the labor market.

As technology rapidly changes, he said, the "soft skills" that students learn in college —  they include communication, leadership, work ethic and critical thinking — are becoming much more important to employers. 

Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.