A new study shows that an estimated 48 percent of West Virginia’s college graduates over the past decade work in the state and that PROMISE scholarship recipients are more likely to work in West Virginia.

The report was completed for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics and provides a comprehensive analysis of employment and income outcomes for graduates of West Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

The study examines work participation and income for graduates of the last decade who worked in the state in 2012. Overall findings indicate that approximately 48 percent of graduates from the last 10 years worked in the state in 2012. The report considered how numerous factors relate to labor market outcomes, such as degree earned, area of concentration, personal characteristics (such as gender and race) and tuition assistance.

“Human capital development is crucial to long-run economic prosperity for West Virginia, and as such it is vital to understand how our college and university graduates fare in the labor market,” said Dr. John Deskins, Director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and co-author of the study. “This research will be important in designing better public policies surrounding higher education in the future.”

Important variation is identified in labor market outcomes along numerous dimensions. For instance, in terms of educational characteristics, the report suggests that labor market outcomes depend heavily on degree earned and area of concentration.

“One interesting finding is that graduates who received a PROMISE scholarship exhibit significantly higher work participation rates in West Virginia compared to overall baccalaureate graduates,” Deskins said. “This could be an important consideration as the state’s scholarship programs are evaluated in the future.”

Graduates who worked in the state in 2012 earned an average income of $41,847. Average income tends to rise as the time since graduation increases.

“One of our most interesting findings to me is that low income students exhibited higher work participation rates,” said Eric Bowen, BBER research associate and co-author.

“These findings are important to examine as we continue working to increase access to postsecondary education, as well as the success of our students and the lasting impact they have on West Virginia,” said Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission, which requested the study.

Labor market outcomes by industry and by region across the state are also examined.

The report found that more than half of the graduates who work in the state are employed in just two industries: health care and social assistance, and education services.

The full report is available from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research for free download in PDF format at http://be.wvu.edu/bbe. Visit http://www.be.wvu.edu/bber/publications.aspx to view the report and other publications by the BBER. For further information about the WVU College of Business and Economics, please visit http://www.be.wvu.edu/.



CONTACT: John Deskins, Ph.D., WVU College of Business and Economics
304.293.7876, John.Deskins@mail.wvu.edu

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