339 degrees of separation: Which state university, college degree-holders earn the most one year out?

The Maine Department of Labor on Monday released a new data set showing the average wage for graduates earn their first year out, by degree type and school. In short: If you want to know who’s raking it in after just one year, read on.

There are some caveats. I’ll get to those first.

A liberal arts school graduate myself, it’s worth noting (from the DOL’s notes on the data set):

The value of an education includes factors beyond employment statistics. The data system does not measure intangible factors such as personal satisfaction with earning a credential and the intrinsic value of an education.


The first batch of data covers graduates from 2009 to 2011. So, beyond limitations of the data (first-year figures don’t reflect long-term outcomes; it only includes graduates with matches in the state’s unemployment insurance database — that is, sole proprietors aren’t counted; and it’s unknown whether the graduates are working in their field of study), there’s also the impact of the recession to consider on each sector.

The DOL data has various views showing what types of degree-holders earned the most one year out, as well as other views that can be sorted (see the “tips” tab for ways to manipulate the data presented).

I’ve taken that data and made a different view, showing two things: earnings and the percent of graduates in a certain degree program with wages reported through the state’s unemployment insurance system in their first year out. That’s broken out by degree, school and then degree level.

Each degree type is ranked by the average first-year wages across all schools and degree types. To give a sense of where each specific degree program and each school ranks against every other for average first-year wages, look at the “overall rank” column, ranging from 1 to 339. Degree programs with identical first-year earnings are assigned the same rank.

As the BDN newsroom peruses the data for the trends and stories that may lie within, what jumps out at you?

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.