In the lifecycle of colleges and universities, the month of May has historically marked the end of many students’ journey through their academic pursuits and into the beginning of their careers. While most attention to student outcomes within higher education has remained focused on retention/persistence and graduation, the topic of post-graduation employment outcomes have come to the forefront in recent years. With millions of students in America receiving diplomas this month, we turn our attention to a recently-developed data source from the US Census Bureau that provides Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) data for 10 partnership states, including Texas, with an additional seven states in the data pipeline.
Many states have developed systems that link higher education graduation data with workforce data to provide aggregated results of whether and to what extent graduates of public institutions are working within that particular state. The Texas CREWS website serves this purpose for Texans. Although the majority of graduates from Texas public institutions work in the state after graduation, one of the limitations to the Texas CREWS data is that any graduate who is not captured in the unemployment insurance data maintained by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) does not get counted. Numerous reasons for these omissions exist, but the primary one is due to graduates working outside of Texas after graduating from a Texas institution. The partnership between the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the US Census Bureau overcomes that limitation by providing earnings and wage data at a national level. For further exploration, the PSEO Explorer is a great tool for drilling into the employment outcomes data for specific institutions. However, making comparisons across institutions is currently not possible. This blog serves as an initial attempt to compare post-graduation employment outcomes across institutions within Carnegie Classifications represented in the current data.
The 10 partner states currently included in the PSEO data are Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. States are at different levels of integration within the PSEO structure, as data are not available for all public institutions in each partner state. However, for the institutions included in the data, there is a high knowledge rate for graduates of those institutions. Data on the PSEO Explorer interactive website can be viewed for various degree levels (bachelors and masters), cohorts from 2001 through 2015, earnings percentiles, years post-graduation (1, 5, and 10), and academic programs.
For the purposes of our exploration, this post concentrates on average earnings for bachelor’s degreeholders at the 50th percentile. Institutions are clustered based on their Carnegie Classification, as the focus of this blog post is on doctoral-classified universities, and masters colleges and universities will be presented in the next post. Average earnings are for all cohorts across all instructional programs. The group of visualizations below shows each of the three Carnegie Classifications of doctoral institutions separately: Very High Research (VHR), High Research (HR), and Doctoral/Professional. The time-points measured in the PSEO data are for 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years post-graduation. The default view for each visualization has the institutions sorted from highest to lowest in the first column that represents “Year 1 Average Earnings (50th Percentile)” as shown at the bottom of the column. The second and third columns are “Year 5” and “Year 10” earnings respectively, with the fourth column representing the “percentage (%) change from year 1 to year 10” at each institution. The overall averages are weighted averages based on the number of graduates employed in Year 1 of the data. The color-coding of the bars is based on the institution’s percentage change value in the fourth column, with darker colors representing less change than lighter colors with more change over time. The visualization can be sorted using any of the four columns by hovering over the column label at the bottom and clicking on the “filter” icon that pops-up.
Doctoral Institutions: Very High Research (VHR)
Doctoral Institutions: High Research (HR)
Doctoral Institutions: Doctoral/Professional
NOTES: If you are unable to read all of the labels in the visualization below, we recommend clicking the “Full Screen” button on the lower right of the visualization window to enlarge the information. Hovering over each bar will provide a tooltip with additional information.
Another data point included in the PSEO data is the count of graduates who were employed within the state where they earned their bachelor’s degree. By dividing this in-state employment count by the total number of earners, we can determine an in-state employment rate. In the PSEO Technical Documentation, the researchers indicate that “mobility and higher wages are positively correlated” (p. 10), which would mean that the higher the percentage of in-state employment for a university, the lower the average earnings would be for their graduates. To examine whether this statement was supported by the data on doctoral-level institutions, we plotted each of the doctoral universities in the PSEO dataset using scatterplots with “Average Earnings” on the x-axis and “Percentage Employed In-State” on the y-axis, as shown in the visualizations below. The institutions are color-coded based on their state, and each time-point (Year 1, Year 5, and Year 10) are plotted in separate panels. The trend line through the data points is considered to be the “line of best fit.”
Doctoral Institutions: Overall Trends
Doctoral Institutions by Carnegie Classification
NOTES: If you are unable to read all of the labels in the visualization below, we recommend clicking the “Full Screen” button on the lower right of the visualization window to enlarge the information. Hovering over each point will provide a tooltip with additional information.
The most important benefit of these PSEO data is the ability to make comparisons between and among institutions across state lines using a common metric that is not limited by within state borders data systems. The PSEO data also provide the opportunity to see these trends over time. Using the “Scatterplots: Doctoral by Carnegie” visualization above, we can see how the most prominent public institutions, generally known as “R1” institutions, in each of these 10 states perform against one another in terms of the earnings of their bachelor’s degree graduates. What we can also see is that, excluding the Colorado School of Mines, graduates from institutions in the Very High Research Activity category tend to earn more at each time point of measurement, although the distribution of mobility (percentage employed in-state) is relatively similar over time and across institution types.
This blog post is just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in terms of what can be done with these PSEO data. We strongly encourage you to visit the PSEO Explorer website to further explore institution-specific data that allow for drilling-down into earnings data at the academic program level, as well as a very nice feature showing how graduates “flow” from academic program preparation to specific industries. This feature alone would be greatly beneficial for expanding our knowledge about what paths our graduates follow after earning their degrees at our institutions.
If you are wondering about the data for Master’s Public Colleges and Universities, stay tuned. The May 15th blog will present those data in similar form as has been presented here for doctoral-level institutions.