New U.S. Census Bureau Data Links College Degrees and Earnings
Release Number: CB18-53

The U.S. Census Bureau announced the release of the first data sets from a pilot public-use data product on labor market outcomes for college graduates, offering prospective students a useful tool and a fresh perspective in their considerations of post-secondary education. This release covers graduates from the University of Texas System. A release scheduled for later this year will cover students within the Colorado Department of Higher Education. The Census Bureau’s Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes pilot research program is being conducted in cooperation with higher education institutional systems to examine college degree attainment and graduate earnings. Through agreements with the Census Bureau, Texas and Colorado provided administrative education data on enrollment and graduation provided by their university systems, which the Census Bureau matched with national jobs statistics produced by the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program in the Center for Economic Studies.

“With this pilot, the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program addresses a major gap in the federal statistical infrastructure for education statistics,” said John Abowd, Chief Scientist and Associate Director for Research and Methodology at the Census Bureau. “Up until now, individual states could only measure earnings and employment outcomes for persons who worked in the same state where they were educated. Thanks to this pilot, states, universities and prospective students have the opportunity to see employment outcomes by program of study by region and industry.”

The Graduate Earnings tabulations provide national-level statistics on annual earnings for graduates by major field, degree level, institution and graduation cohort. The statistics will focus on the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile of earnings at one, five, and 10 years after graduation. The number of graduates in each of these groups will also be published. Statistics will be updated for future graduation cohorts as they become available.

“These statistics provide a much clearer picture of earnings outcomes by college degree and institution,” said Andrew Foote, a Census Bureau economist and lead researcher on the project. “We know that some college graduates move to different states for employment. Now we can see where they go and how much money they are earning. This information offers prospective students an assessment tool to plan their postsecondary education.”

The Census Bureau is working to add additional higher education institution systems to the database.

The Census Bureau will release data on graduate employment outcomes in the coming months. These tabulations will show employment outcomes by region and industry for graduates by educational institution and major.

See Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics for more information.

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