COLUMBIA -- Nearly 65 percent of college graduates from S.C. colleges and universities are employed in the state one year after graduation and 50 percent are employed in the state five years after graduation, according to a new report from the State Workforce Development Board, S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce and the Commission on Higher Education.

This study, “In-State Employment Outcomes for South Carolina Post-Secondary Graduates,” not only determined the percentage of students found working in the state one and five years post-graduation, it also looked at their annual, median earnings one and five years post-graduation; and their industry of employment one and five years post-graduation.

The rising cost of post-secondary education and the increasing levels of debt taken on by students and families in South Carolina has generated an increased interest in determining employment outcomes of recent college graduates and led to the study.

“This report is a great opportunity to begin providing more transparency for students, parents, and policy makers as they make decisions regarding investments into higher education and the potential returns to those investments,” said Erica Von Nessen, Ph.D., DEW’s research economist.

“Increasingly, students and families are focusing on marketability (i.e. ability to get a job) when choosing a major. This report provides valuable information to students as they choose their field of study. This report will also assist colleges and universities in ensuring their academic course offerings are aligned with the economic needs of the state,” Interim CHE President and Executive Director Jeff Schilz said.

“The study provides students and job-seekers real data on how employment in the high-growth sectors leads to family sustaining wages, often requiring only a two year degree or less,” said Michelle Paczynski, DEW’s assistant executive director of Workforce, Innovation, Strategies and Programs.

The report shows that the median annual earnings tend to increase dramatically (6.3 percent per year) for individuals between their first and fifth year post-graduation across all degree levels.

• Graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, fields had the fastest median annual wage growth (9.6 percent) one to five years post-graduation followed by Trades (8.2 percent) and Business and Communication (8.1 percent).

• Education majors were the most likely discipline to be found in the S.C. wage records five years post-graduation, but they experienced the lowest level of wage growth at 2.6 percent per year.

Although more advanced degrees are typically associated with higher median earnings, individuals completing an associate’s degree or less have opportunities to earn family sustaining wages in high demand fields such as truck and bus driving; machine tool technology; and industrial electronics technology.

While graduates of South Carolina’s colleges and universities in FY2009-10 are employed in every industrial sector in the state, there is a higher concentration among college graduates in sectors such as health care and social assistance (27.5 percent), education (17.7 percent) and professional, scientific, and technical services (7.5 percent) one year post-graduation.


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