Sorry I haven't gotten back to you, I've been backpacking in Yosemite for the past week and a half (gotta live it up!).
I've been working for two years now; 6 months at PerkinElmer where I previously did an internship and 1.5 years at a plastic film manufactoring plant. I always planned on going to grad school, but I had a rough senior year and I let applications get away from me. I was planning on going back right after the PE job, which was more or less an extension on my internship, but when the plastics job came around I decided to work there for a bit and get some new skills.
I'm going back because I really miss fundemental research. I always like the idea of researching to gain a better understanding of a phenomenon rather than for profit as well. This worked out really well for me, since I'm at a school I've always wanted to go to and probably working for a professor I've had a strong interested in for years. I can't be sure I would of been accepted straight from undergrad. Plus they gave me a fellowship!
One word of advice is to stay on top of GREs and doing your apps. Doing that on top of a full time job can be draining. Get employed as quickly as you can too, you want to show that you've been using your chemistry skills and not letting them get rusty.
Quick $0.02 on some other stuff - There are a few programs that accept students in the winter (MSU has constant rolling admissions I think), but you'll have a better chance at getting in come fall. Rankings are helpful, but in the end of the day you'll want to go to a school that had 2-3 solid faculty members with good funding that are doing research you think you can spend 4-7 years doing.