The AIR Professional File
Fall 2021, Article 154 

Using State Workforce Data to Report Graduate Outcomes

Matt Bryant   

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Survey methodology is the dominant approach among universities in the United States for reporting employment outcomes for recent graduates. However, past studies have shown that survey methodology may yield upwardly biased results, which can result in overreporting of employment rates and salary outcomes. This case study describes the development and application of an alternative reporting methodology, by which state wage records are analyzed to determine employment and salary outcomes for recent graduates. Findings at Western Washington University suggest the significant sample sizes that can be achieved using wage record methodology may provide a more reliable option than survey methodology for accurately reporting graduate outcomes.

Keywords: graduate outcomes, graduate employment, earnings reporting, wage records data


Additional Information


This case study describes a process for refining and applying methodology outlined by David Troutman and Jessica Shedd in their 2016 article, “Using State Workforce Data to Examine Postgraduation Outcomes,” published in issue 169 of New Directions for Institutional Research. Many thanks to the authors for their informative scholarship, to my supervisors at Western Washington University for supporting this work, and to John Krieg, PhD, for his insight and mentoring.


Matt Bryant, Western Washington University


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