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IU study examines early career outcomes for public college graduates

An Indiana University research project that looked at work outcomes for graduates at all degree levels of the state's public colleges found that the manufacturing industry awarded the highest pay. When it comes to which industry hires the most graduates, however, that honor fell to the educational services industry, followed by the health care services industry.

The state's colleges produced 220,974 graduates, with the majority receiving a bachelor's degree (55.3 percent), during the time period studied -- 2000 to 2005. Of these bachelor's degree recipients, 59.1 percent remained in the state one year after graduation. Five years after graduation, only 43 percent of bachelor's degree holders continued working for Indiana employers.

"Further analysis of remain rates by degree for the 2000 to 2005 timeframe presents a telling pattern: Certificate and associate degree recipients are more likely to still be in the Indiana work force one year later after graduation than any other degree -- 81 percent and 81.7 percent, respectively," wrote the study's author, Tanya Hall, an economic research analyst at the Indiana Business Research Center in IU's Kelley School of Business.

The report, "How Education Pays: The Work Outcomes of Indiana's Postsecondary Graduates," was researched using the Indiana Workforce Intelligence System, which allows researchers to identify educational and employment patterns and their corresponding income implications. The report used information for 95,237 students who graduated between 2000 and 2005 and remained in the state both one and five years after graduation working for an Indiana employer.

Despite the heavy concentration of graduates entering the educational and health care services industries, the paychecks received do not place these industries in the top five highest-paying industries. The exception is when a student obtained a doctorate or professional degree and worked in education or health care.

"Despite these two industries not being the highest paid, they had the greatest percentage still working in those sectors five years later, with education experiencing a significant number of in-migration workers," Hall said. "While professional and business services did not have a particularly high rate of workers remaining, they did have a significant number of in-migration workers, showing that this sector has a higher degree of employee churn."

When viewing the data from the standpoint of pay level, manufacturing easily dominates the top five paying industries both one and five years after graduation for all degree levels.

"While those with a doctorate or professional degree had more variety in terms of well-paying industries, this data really underscores the importance of manufacturing in the state -- as every degree level touted manufacturing as a top five paying industry," Hall said. "Manufacturing, in contrast to trade, transportation and utilities, had a respectable number of workers remaining in the industrial sector and worker in-migration five years out."

The educational outcomes study measured the wages of a five-year cohort (2000 to 2005) of all types of graduates -- associate, bachelor, professional, doctoral and other certifications -- from Indiana public colleges and universities one year and five years after earning their credentials.

Among the paper's other findings:

  • Women were more likely to remain in the Hoosier state five years after earning their degrees. Six out of 10 female graduates of all post-secondary degrees -- from certificates to doctorates -- remained to work in Indiana between 2000 and 2005, while only four of 10 male graduates stayed in state.
  • A large majority of the state's sub-baccalaureate graduates remain in the state and, immediately after earning their credential, these graduates earned wages nearly equal to or higher than bachelor's degree recipients. Over time, however, the wages for bachelor's degree recipients grew more rapidly than sub-baccalaureate graduates.
  • Men tended to earn more than women across industries and across degree types, but these wage gaps may reflect occupational differences that were not within the scope of the study.

The Indiana Workforce Intelligence System is one of the first systems in the nation to integrate student and worker data to understand education outcomes for workers. A unique collaboration of Indiana state agencies and university research, the Indiana Workforce Intelligence System provides the data needed to measure those outcomes and develop performance metrics. To learn more about this study and others performed using this tool, go to To learn more about the IBRC, go to