A University of Wisconsin pilot project has provided data and insight on the economic success of graduates.
UW’s study was generated by matching records of graduates with earnings data. This data was based on unemployment insurance earnings files provided by all states to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The data shows various income gap sizes between the 25th and 75th percentile of earners — meaning 25 percent of majors make less than that amount and 25 percent of majors make more, respectively — per major. For linguistic, comparative and related language studies majors graduating from 2004 to 2006, looking at five year post-grad earnings, the 25th percentile earners saw incomes of about $23,000 while the 75th percentile earners saw incomes over triple that, at about $85,000.
The gap is not always so wide, however. For animal sciences majors, the 25th percentile earners saw incomes of about $40,000 and the 75th percentile saw incomes of about 1 1/2 times as high, at about $64,000.
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Five years after graduation, graduates from roughly one third of majors had median individual earnings of more than $60,000, more than the median annual income of an entire Wisconsin household (about $60,000), a press release announcing the data said.
After graduation, earnings increase for various degrees over time. For biomedical and medical engineering graduates, the 50th percentile earners saw incomes of about $52,000. Ten years after they graduated, their incomes nearly doubled to about $101,000.
The differences are not always so stark, however. For the registered nursing, nursing administration, clinical and research nursing graduates from 2004-2006, the 50th percentile earners saw incomes of about $64,000 after one year post-grad. However, ten years post-grad, their incomes only rose slightly to about $71,000 – about a 10 percent increase.
About 70 percent of UW are represented in the earnings data. Graduates working outside of the U.S., working for employers not covered by unemployment insurance or working only seasonally were not included. Graduates who were enrolled in additional education and do not have earnings in the time frame were also not included.
Jocelyn Milner, vice provost for academic affairs and lead on the project at UW, discussed the project in a press release.
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“[The report] serves as a foundation as we learn more about where graduates live and work, what kind of work they do and other ways that education shows positive impacts on graduates and their communities,” Milner said in the press release.
The project was a collaboration between the UW Academic Planning and Institutional Research office, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes project, and the Institute for Research on Innovation & Science at the University of Michigan.
According to their website, PSEOs are experimental tabulations. The data provides earnings and employment outcomes for higher-education graduates by degree level, degree major and institution. These statistics are collected by matching university transcript data with a national database of jobs.
Other institutions that have also partnered with the Bureau on similar projects include the University of Texas System, public institutions in Colorado and the University of Michigan.
IRIS is a member consortium of universities hosted at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, according to their website.