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Labor Market Data and Research at the Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau is a leading federal source of labor market data and research. From the decennial census to the American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, Annual Business Survey, and among numerous other surveys, the Census Bureau collects and disseminates some of the most authoritative and geographically detailed data on the U.S. labor market. Indeed, key data that guide our understanding and decision making about work and education have their roots in the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau also is applying the latest in data science techniques to combine its own survey data with administrative and private third-party data to deepen our understanding of the nexus between education and the labor market.  The results will begin to fill data and research gaps cited by the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion.

Pilot Data on Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates

Earlier this year, the Census Bureau released the first set of tabulations from the University of Texas system as part of a pilot public-use data product on labor market outcomes for college graduates, offering prospective students a useful tool and a fresh perspective in their considerations of post-secondary education.  These data come from the Census Bureau’s Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes pilot research program, through which higher education institutional systems partner with the Census Bureau to produce data to examine the relationship between college degree attainment and graduate earnings.

The University of Texas system and Colorado Department of Higher Education already have established agreements to provide administrative educational data on enrollment and graduation provided by their university systems, which the Census Bureau matched with national jobs statistics produced by the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program in the Center for Economic Studies.

Select findings for the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) demonstrate include the following:

  • Petroleum engineering graduates have the highest median earnings of all UT Austin graduates, with the median graduate earning approximately $120,000 one year after graduation, and $320,000 five years after graduation. 
  • Other engineering graduates receive high returns on their degree, with the median chemical and mechanical engineering graduates earning $103,000 and $90,000 five years after graduation, respectively. Among engineering graduates, biomedical engineers earn the least, with the median graduate earning $58,000 five years after graduation.
  • The median applied design graduate also earns $58,000 five years after graduation. The median music and studio arts majors earned almost $50,000 and $40,000, respectively, five years after graduation.

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