New tool gives employment snapshot for recent college grads
We all want more data when it comes to measuring how college grads are faring in Minnesota and a new tool attempts do that. Developed by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Office of Higher Education, Graduate Employment Outcomes in Minnesota is of some help, but as with any data, there are limitations to what we can conclude. Here’s our quick primer on using this resource and interpreting these data.
The tool allows users to search for employment and wage data by institution type (public, nonprofit, etc.) degree award type (certificate, associate, bachelor’s and graduate) and instructional program (major). Currently, data are only available for students who graduated in 2009-10 and 2010-11, with their employment and wage data for 12 and 24 months after graduation.
This information allows users to get a sense of employment and what graduates working in Minnesota are earning, but it needs to be interpreted carefully. Though these data can tell us how many graduates are found employed in Minnesota, it cannot tell us how many graduates are unemployed, continuing their education, some combination such as continuing their education and working part-time, or simply out of the state for some other reason. This is an important distinction. Because wage data come from Minnesota records only, they don’t include graduates who are working in other states, at federal agencies, in the armed forces, at religious nonprofits for whom there are no data, are self-employed or who did not have a valid Social Security number. These data underestimate the percentage of graduates who are employed and underestimate earnings for a field of study where graduates are continuing their education and working a part-time job.
The table below shows employment and wage data two years after graduation for the top five majors for students earning a bachelor’s degree in 2010-11. The most popular major was business, with 6,102 graduates.
Although 80% of business graduates reported wages two years after graduation — that does not mean that the remaining 20% were unemployed. These graduates could be employed in other states, attending graduate school or not counted in these data for other reasons mentioned above.
The annual median wage for the 80% of graduates with wage data found in Minnesota was $36,975. And 68% of those graduates (not 68% of all graduates) were employed year-round. Winnowing down the data further, 52% of the original 80% were employed full-time year-round and had a median wage of $42,064.
Although this tool is useful, it’s very important to keep in mind its limitations. It gives accurate information about the Minnesota graduates it tracks, but that’s not the full story.