Career SurveyDespite the anemic economy and unpredictable job market, students in the graduating class of 2012 may have reason to be optimistic, according to a new survey from job search sites CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com, a subsidiary.

The survey, which was conducted independently by Harris Interactive, polled more than 2,000 hiring managers across the country and found that more than half of employers, 54%, said they expected to hire recent college graduates this year.  The results are a marked improvement from the previous three years of hiring data.  In 2009, only 43% of employers said they anticipated hiring newly-minted graduates.

“This is the first time since the recession that we’re seeing a majority of employers planning to add recent college graduates to their employee roster,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America.

Unsurprisingly, business majors and those studying computer and information sciences are among the most sought after by prospective employers, with 39% and 24% of those surveyed saying they’re looking for new graduates with those concentrations, respectively.  Engineering majors ranked third, with 23% of employers saying they were seeking students who had studied the field.

On the other end of the hiring spectrum, only 9% of employers surveyed said they were seeking recent graduates with liberal arts majors.

“Companies across industries are placing a strong emphasis on recruiting fresh talent for technology-related roles and positions designed to drive revenue,” said Rasmussen, noting that companies were “willing to pay more for high-skill, educated labor.”

Indeed. Along with more opportunities, survey results also suggest that new graduates can expect somewhat larger paychecks than previous years.

According to the survey, 29% of employers polled expect to offer more generous starting salaries than they did in 2011.  And while employers were most likely to report that they would pay new graduates between $30,000 and $40,000, 28% said they expect to extend offers exceeding $50,000—a 4% gain from 2011.

Average household income currently stands at just over $50,000.