A new West Virginia University study shows that 58.1 percent of PROMISE scholars and 65.5 percent of Higher Education Grant Program recipients that graduate from a university or college in West Virginia decide to stay in the state.

Additionally, according to the study completed for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, “From Higher Education to Work in West Virginia, 2013” showed that of the 118,832 students who graduated from public higher education in West Virginia in the last decade, 56,201 were working in West Virginia in 2013, which translates into a work participation rate of 47.3 percent.

Statistics from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research, which operates in the College of Business and Economics, showed that the participation rate is down slightly from last year’s estimated 48 percent. Health professions became the largest area of concentration in this year’s study, with 19,018 graduates, while business, management and marketing was a close second with 18,380 graduates.

“The growth of the health care industry in West Virginia has been rather significant over the past few years,” said John Deskins, Director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research and co-author of the study. “The investment in this sector is reflected in the higher number of health care professionals who have decided to stay and work in the state.”

The trend continued with PROMISE and HEGP grant recipients again this year, which Deskins said could be important as the state’s scholarship programs are evaluated for the future.

“These findings confirm that our state’s investments in financial aid and higher education work,” said Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor of the WVHEPC. “When we invest in our students, they are more likely to give back to West Virginia. And our continuing focus should be on ensuring access to postsecondary education and helping more students earn their degrees – so they can pursue high-need, important careers that will move West Virginia forward.”

The report is assembled annually for the WVHEPC 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 during 2013, and considered how numerous factors relate to labor market outcomes, such as degree earned, area of concentration, personal characteristics (such as gender and race), academic achievement and tuition assistance.

“Recent studies have shown us that the employment picture in West Virginia is changing and changing dramatically,” Deskins said. “The local, statewide, national and global labor markets are continually evolving, and it’s important that the human capital development that is crucial to the long-run economic prosperity for West Virginia reflects that evolution. This is the kind of research that is significant in helping to design better public policies surrounding higher education for the future.”

During 2013, graduates who worked in the state earned an average income of $43,221 and, not surprisingly, in-state students, identified by their residency for fee purposes, were far more likely to work in West Virginia after graduation than out-of-state students. Gender gap statistics were also telling in the higher education to work study.

“Women are graduating in higher numbers than men, and these women are more likely to be working within West Virginia,” said Eric Bowen, BBER research associate and co-author. “However, women’s wages are lower than their male counterparts in nearly every area of study. That’s a challenge women graduates still face in West Virginia.”

Bowen said other interesting findings included:
• Women represent the majority (57 percent) of public higher education graduates in West Virginia over the past decade, and women exhibit a significantly higher work participation rate (51.8 percent for women compared with 41.4 percent for men).
• There exists a significant income gap between men and women graduates who work in the state: Men who work in the state earn 30 percent more than women, and this wage gap exists for virtually every area of concentration.
• Graduates with higher ACT scores exhibit significantly lower work participation rates than those with lower ACT scores.
• Low income students exhibited higher work participation rates

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

The full report is available from the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research for free download in PDF format at be.wvu.edu/bber. Visit 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, visit be.wvu.edu.



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

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