Survey: Just over half of recent graduates are employed full-time

'It takes a little time for the labor market to absorb all of these students'

Six months after graduation, just over half of recent graduates are employed full time, according to a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The organization used data collected by 207 of its member schools to examine the outcomes of approximately 274,000 people who graduated in 2014. It is the first time such a survey used the same methodology to collect answers nationally, allowing the data to be compared, according to Inside Higher Ed. Statisticians, career service and other experts helped create the methodology.

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The survey breaks down responses from the individual institutions by public or private, type of degree awarded, institution size, and degree awarded.

The researchers found that six months after graduation:

  • 54% of all graduates were employed full-time; and
  • About 14% were still looking for a job.

"College graduates dump about 1.7 million new workers into the labor market. You'd guess that it takes a little time for the labor market to absorb all of these students," says Jeff Strohl, director of research at Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, who was not involved with the survey.

About 80% of all bachelor's degree-holders were in a "positive outcome." Of them:

  • 16.4% continued their education;
  • 62% were employed; 
  • 58.4% found "standard employment;"

Others were self-employed, in the military, or completing an internship or fellowship.

Meanwhile, the 20.4% of graduates holding an associate degree were slightly more likely to continue their education.

Over time, the breakdown of employment options may allow researchers to identify labor market and higher education trends, says Ed Koc, NACE's director of research, public policy, and legislative affairs.

While the sample size is small, Koc said the averages held fairly steady as more colleges were added, leading him to believe the survey results are a fair representation.

Others say they are wary—especially because there is no way to determine whether or not schools followed NACE's methodology.

"If I was putting out a report like this, I wouldn't want to call it a baseline by which all future things should be compared," says Strohl. However, the data does match reports from his center (Thomeson, Inside Higher Ed, 6/5).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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