© Copyright 2003 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Employment Outcomes for [Nebraska] College Graduates*

by:  Mary Findlay, Economic Trends, Nebraska Workforce Development, Labor Market Information Center

Last month Research & Planning presented an article called “The Community College Connection: Labor Market Outcomes.” It explored how Wyoming community colleges meet the educational and employment goals of their graduates. The article is a summary of the publication Connecting Business and the Wyoming Community College System: A Study of Employment Outcomes of 2001 Graduates from Wyoming Community Colleges. Wyoming is not the only state interested in employment outcomes of college graduates. The following article looks at some of the research results from Nebraska’s Employment Outcomes Project.

How much are recent graduates of Nebraska community and state colleges making? This is one question many people in the state would like to have answered. Prospective students planning their education need information to help select a college. Colleges and regulating commissions need the information to improve education and training programs in the state. Workforce Investment Boards, economic developers, and policy makers need information on labor supply to help meet the needs of businesses in Nebraska. 

Results from the Employment Outcomes Project are giving a clearer picture of recent graduates’ earnings, industry employment, and work location. Questions answered by the project include:

The Workforce Investment Act provided the impetus for the partnership that developed between the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education [CCPE], Nebraska Workforce Development, and Nebraska’s state and community colleges. The Workforce Investment Act requires states to develop a system of consumer information and the outcomes information fills that bill. Now that processes have been worked out, other education and training providers are being invited to participate. 

All of Nebraska’s community colleges and Wayne and Chadron State Colleges participated in the initial Employment Outcomes Project. Unemployment Insurance wage files were queried to see how many graduates from July 1999 - June 2000 were found working in Nebraska during January through March of 2001. Annual earnings estimates were calculated from this snapshot and reported in the aggregate to protect individuals' privacy.

What are our plans for the future? Possibilities include future wage matches on this cohort of graduates to find out how many are staying in Nebraska and earnings gained over a specific amount of time. Mapping the counties of employment illustrates the need to obtain employment and wage information from our neighboring states. This is an option that may be pursued in the future. Some files have included demographic information and this could be mined to produce reports that incorporate gender, race and ethnic background.

This consumer reports system includes education and training programs plus outcomes information on as many programs as possible. The Workforce Investment Act specifically identifies using Unemployment Insurance wage records as an accurate, inexpensive, and confidential source of outcomes data. Concerns about individual student privacy were addressed and resolved in the procedures for outcomes measurement. 


The U.S. Departments of Education and Labor published a joint memorandum on the interpretation that sharing individual student social security numbers with state labor agencies was permitted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The memo, while allowing educational authorities, such as CCPE to share the data with state labor agencies, explained the limitations on the exception:

An agreement between the Commission and the Department of Labor defines the procedures for protecting individually identifiable information. Information on the employment outcomes project methodology may be obtained by contacting Mary Findlay at mfindlay@dol.state.ne.us. Limitations of the data may be obtained by clicking on Stuff You Should Know in Nebraska TrainingLink.

*Used with permission. Originally published in the January 2003 edition of Economic Trends, a monthly publication produced by the Nebraska Workforce Development, Labor Market Information Center. The original article can be viewed at <http://www.dol.state.ne.us/nwd/pdf/lmitrends/ET_Jan2003.pdf>.

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