Major Wages: Graduate Outcomes from Portland Community College and Portland State

by Jake Procino

May 24, 2023

Job and wage data for college graduates has traditionally been quite difficult to obtain. Different states and college systems each maintain their own internal data and approaches to tracking graduates, which have rarely been connected in a systematic way to employment outcomes.

These critical data questions got a bit easier to answer in 2022 when Oregon joined a cohort of states in the Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) experimental data product from the U.S. Census Bureau. PSEO matches up degree recipients with job data to provide a range of insights on where graduates end up and how much they earn over time.

Whether you are planning your path to college or developing the local workforce, PSEO data provides a firm look at the economic value of instructional and degree programs around Oregon and in other states. There is a lot to explore, but in this short article I’ll look at earnings outcomes by degree level at Portland Community College (PCC) and Portland State University (PSU), one, five and 10 years after graduating.
Graph showing median wage of graduates by degree level

The median wage for someone with a PCC associate’s degree five years postgrad is $46,532. For someone with a PSU bachelor’s degree five years postgrad is $51,041. As with many colleges, instructional programs at PCC and PSU with the highest earnings postgrad include construction trades, health professions, engineering, and computer and information.

You can explore the data for yourself with the PSEO Explorer tool. There you’ll not only find earnings data for different programs and schools, you can also explore information on the flow of graduates to particular industries or regions of the U.S.

The data comes out of a partnership between public universities and colleges, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the Oregon Employment Department (OED), and the U.S. Census Bureau. Graduation data is only available from public colleges and universities, so the data only covers about 70% of graduates in the state of Oregon. Other omissions from the data set include students who enroll in college courses but do not graduate, graduates who do not work year round, and graduates who are independent contractors or self-employed.

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