WVU researchers: West Virginia college graduates working in state's high-demand sectors

The majority of West Virginia public college graduates working in West Virginia in 2010 participated in areas of study that reflect changing demands of the state, according to a report issued by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) and the West Virginia University (WVU) College of Business and Economics.

The comprehensive report, entitled "From Higher Education to Work in West Virginia 2010" and compiled by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), provides detailed analysis of West Virginia graduates' work participation and wages.

"In 2010, 66 percent of graduates working in the state had an area of concentration in business, education, health care, liberal arts or engineering," said George W. Hammond, BBER associate director. "Graduates in these areas tended to work in the state, in part, because of job opportunities in closely related industries; for instance, health care and education. These sectors account for a large share of state jobs." An area of concentration is a group of closely related majors.

The report provides results by years of experience, residency status, degree, sex, area of concentration, gender, race, academic achievement, tuition assistance, nearby states, industry of work and county of work. The report covers graduates during the past 13 years that worked at an establishment located in the state in 2010.

Additionally, the report tracks the employment of graduates by industry. The latest results show that 49.3 percent of graduates working in the state were employed at firms in the education and health care sectors in 2010. The categories of Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Public Administration; and Retail Trade also attracted large numbers of graduates, with these industries together accounting for 21.7 percent of graduate employment in 2010.

The report shows that male and female graduates tended to work in different industries in 2010. "Female graduates accounted for 79.2 percent of graduates working in Health Care, 72.6 percent of graduates working in Education, and 62.0 percent of graduates working in Accommodation and Food Services," Hammond said. "In contrast, males accounted for 80.1 percent of graduates working in Mining, 76.2 percent of graduates working in Utilities and 75.4 percent of graduates working in Construction.

While West Virginia public higher education graduates worked in all counties in the state in 2010, they were not evenly distributed across the state. "In 2010, 22.1 percent of graduates working in West Virginia worked in Kanawha County, followed by Monongalia County with 12.6 percent, Cabell County with 9.4 percent, Harrison County with 4.8 percent and Wood County with 4.0 percent," Hammond said.

Further, 67.3 percent of graduates worked in metropolitan counties, which are part of labor markets defined around relatively large cities of at least 50,000 residents. Micropolitan counties, which are part of labor markets defined around smaller cities between 10,000 and 50,000 residents, accounted for 17.2 percent of graduates working in the state, followed by nonmetropolitan counties, with 15.5 percent.

"This reflects the fact that larger labor markets tend to become centers for high skill activities, such as accounting, consulting, scientific, health care and legal services," Hammond said.

The report also provides detailed results by selected socio-economic characteristics of the graduates, including race, academic achievement, tuition assistance and work in nearby states.

The full report is available at www.wvhepc.org and bber.wvu.edu.