The West Virginia work participation rate for recent graduates hit 56.9 percent in 2008, according to a report, “From Higher Education To Work In West Virginia 2008,” issued by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.

The report provides detailed analysis of West Virginia work participation and wages for state public higher education graduates during the past 11 years, with results by residency status, degree, major, gender, race, academic achievement, tuition assistance and nearby states.
The latest study also shows that 47.7 percent of graduates during the past 11 years worked in West Virginia in 2008, which reflects the fact that work participation rates tend to fall as graduates gain workplace experience.

Further, wages earned by state higher education graduates working in West Virginia in 2008 rose by 3.7 percent in 2008, above the national inflation rate (of 0.1 percent) and above national wage growth of 2.5 percent , according to Dr. George W. Hammond, associate director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and lead author of the report.

In addition, the report includes new data on West Virginia graduates working in five nearby states and the District of Columbia in 2008.

“While 56.9 percent of recent graduates worked in West Virginia, this analysis also shows that 19.1 percent of recent state graduates worked in either the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Virginia in 2008,” said Hammond. Within that group, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio were the most popular work states in 2008.

“Further, West Virginia graduates that worked in one of these nearby states earned much higher wages than those that remained in West Virginia,” said Hammond. Average wages were $54,076 for state graduates working in one of the nearby states, compared to $41,526 for graduates working in West Virginia.

The full report is available at and



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George Hammond
Associate Director
Bureau of Business and Economic Research
West Virginia University
(304) 293-7876

Rob Anderson
Senior Director of Policy and Planning
Higher Education Policy Commission
(304) 558-1112