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WVU/HEPC study shows West Virginia college graduates likely to work at large firms

A large share of West Virginia public college graduates worked at firms with 500 or more employees in 2010, according to a report issued by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. In fact, nearly half of all college grads over the past 13 years that were working in West Virginia were employed at large firms or state and local government groups.

“In 2010, state public higher education graduates worked at firms of all sizes,” saidGeorge W. Hammond, associate director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research. “However, graduates were relatively concentrated in firms with 500 or more employees. In fact, 42.5 percent of graduates during the past 13 years that were working in the state in 2010 worked at large firms, compared with 24.7 percent of graduates working at firms with 50 or fewer employees,” Hammond said.

The report “Firm Size and Higher Education Graduate Employment in West Virginia 2010” provides detailed analysis of West Virginia graduate work participation and wages by firm employment size, with results by years of experience, residency status, degree, gender and area of concentration.

This concentration of graduates at larger firms was driven by graduate employment at state and local government enterprises. The distribution of graduates by firm employment size was more equal for private sector workers.

“In addition, graduate wages increased with firm employment size in 2010,” Hammond said. Annualized wages earned by graduates at firms with 500 or more employees were $39,032 in 2010, compared to $36,399 for graduates working at firms in the 50-499 employment range, and $32,233 for graduates working at firms with less than 50 employees.

The report also presents results broken down by selected socio-economic characteristics.

“As graduates gain experience, they become more likely to work at larger firms,” Hammond said. In addition, annualized wages for recent graduates tended to be higher at larger firms, but the gap gradually closed as graduates gained experience.

Doctoral and master’s degree graduates were very likely to work at large firms in 2010.

“These large employment shares at bigger firms reflected the concentration of educators with master’s and doctoral degrees,” Hammond said.

Further, female graduates were much more concentrated in large firms than were male graduates. According to the report, 46.0 percent of female graduates worked at firms with 500 or more employees, compared to 36.4 percent for male graduates. “This was driven by the concentration of females with degrees in Education,” Hammond said.