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Groundbreaking Project Releases Nationwide Earnings of UT System Graduates

The University of Texas (UT) System recently published aggregated data on the earnings of its graduates who move out of state. Enabled by a unique partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program, the project shows great promise for better information on the workforce outcomes of postsecondary programs and institutions nationwide. 

The UT System makes this information available to the public via its online tool, seekUT, which includes program level information by institutions within the UT System. The seekUT online tool now includes out-of-state as well as in-state data on graduates, showing their median earnings by program-level at one, five, and ten years after graduation, as well as their debt-to-income ratios. The tool also provides the percentage of students who pursue education beyond the baccalaureate level, and covers undergraduate, graduate, medical, and dental programs. Eventually, the project will release information disaggregated by U.S. region.

The addition of nationwide earnings data is important because graduates who move out of state for work tend to have higher earnings than those who remain in the same state where they earned their credentials. Moreover, graduate degree recipients tend to move out of state more than those who receive baccalaureate degrees. 

In order to produce the nationwide earnings information, researchers matched UT System student data with the LEHD's earnings data from states' unemployment insurance wage records and earnings data from the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management, with some exclusions. The project shows the ability of agencies to maintain stringent safeguards that protect privacy and maintain security around systems that match student data with information from other administrative records. This process could help to inform the creation of a national student-level data system.

Project leaders said this is the first time a postsecondary institution has collaborated with a federal agency to measure earnings outcomes that are more complete than what is currently available through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. Unlike the Scorecard, UT System data includes non-federally aided students and shows the earnings of completers by program of study, rather than lumping together the earnings of completers and non-completers at the institutional level.

LEHD has been working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education and has been in discussion with other states to explore similar projects. The lessons learned from the UT System project will also inform the Census Bureau’s efforts to scale up other education research projects in the future.

LEHD is open to forming new partnerships with other institutions so they too can discover how their graduates fare in the workforce nationwide. LEHD provides more information about its methodology and data files, as well as contact information, on its Postsecondary Employment Outcomes project page.

Posted In: Texas, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
President's Budget Eliminates Key Data Grants, Proposes New Access to Wage Data

The Trump Administration released its budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 on February 12. The budget eliminates two state grant programs that WDQC has supported for connecting education and workforce data. In one bright spot, however, the budget proposes expanding access to wage data for performance measurement and evidence-based policymaking.

Funding proposals related to workforce data include:

  • Eliminating the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) program. This competitive grant program funds states to match education, training, and employment data to evaluate workforce outcomes and develop consumer information tools. The President and House moved to eliminate WDQI in FY 2018. The Senate proposed keeping $5 million for the program, but the government has yet to agree on final funding for FY 2018. The DOL Budget in Brief provides no specific reason for eliminating the program in FY 2019.
  • Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grant program that has helped states to link pre-K through postsecondary data to evaluate student outcomes over time. The elimination accounts for a part of the overall reduction in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) funding. ED’s Budget Summary states that this competitive grant program “has fulfilled its original purpose and is no longer necessary.” The Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), previously funded under the SLDS program, would continue under the Statistical program at IES. 
  • Funding the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at $609.4 million. This slight increase over the enacted FY 2017 level still falls short of accounting for inflation since 2010. WDQC previously joined other organizations in calling for at least $641 million to ensure BLS could conduct analyses of employer-provided training and other programs on a regular basis to fill data gaps.
  • Providing $3.8 billion to the Census Bureau. The significant increase accounts for the 2020 Decennial Census with major field operations beginning in 2019. On the other hand, the Commerce Department’s Budget in Briefsays, “planned enhancements to data management and analytic capacity will be reduced,” although “work will continue on evidence building pilots involving veterans, manufacturing, employment, and student loans.” 

 FY19 Pres Budget Proposal Table

On a more positive note, which reflects WDQC’s advocacy for improved, secure access to administrative wage data, Chapter 6 of the President’s Analytical Perspectives acknowledges broad recommendations from the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking and proposes a new initiative to allow wider access to the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), which maintains quarterly wage data. The access would apply “to units within Federal agencies that conduct research, statistical activities, evaluation, and/or performance measurement associated with assessing labor market outcomes.” The proposal would enable:

  • DOL and ED to use NDNH data to conduct program evaluations on employment and training programs, including for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • State agencies with WIOA responsibilities to match their data with NDNH for program administration, including program oversight and evaluation of WIOA and other DOL and ED employment and training programs.
  • Authorization of “data exchanges between state child support agencies, state agencies that administer workforce programs, and state agencies that administer Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation to improve coordination between the programs.”

Potentially holding additional implications for inter-agency use of data, in March, the Administration will release the President’s Management Agenda. The Administration hopes to improve data efficiencies and transparencies by modernizing the government’s information technology. The Administration also promises to undertake specific reviews of important agency structures and activities such as “streamlining Federal statistical functions across multiple Federal agencies.”

The President’s budget now goes to Congress. Congress had not enacted a full-year 2018 Appropriation at the time the budget was prepared, so the budget assumes accounts are operating under the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2018, which runs until March 23. As part of the Continuing Resolution (CR) passed on February 9, Sec. 306 of the CR Supplemental appropriation included Grants to States for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments. The grant program will allow states to set aside up to 10 percent of the funds from these grants for evaluation activities, and the Secretary of Labor will later submit to Congress a report describing promising interventions used by states to provide reemployment assistance. The FY 2018 CR Supplemental also included the “Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act” which requires meeting predetermined successful outcomes before receiving payment, as well as supplemental funding for conducting Census activities required for Decennial Census preparations.

WDQC will continue to analyze the President’s FY 2019 budget and advocate for sufficient funding to enable the use of data for improving workforce development at all levels of government.

For more information on workforce programs in the FY 2019 budget, visit the National Skills Coalition’s Skills blog.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
New WDQC fact sheet highlights expert recommendations for stronger workforce data

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking that was established by legislation sponsored by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), proposed actions in September 2017 that are mostly consistent with WDQC’s recommendations.  These actions would change how the government uses the data it already collects, and would improve the quality of information policymakers have about federal investments. 

WDQC has produced a new fact sheet: Adopt These Expert Recommendations to Strengthen Workforce Data, which summarizes some of the Commission’s key recommendations that could bolster workforce information, including:

  • Creating a secure national data matching service,
  • Producing a single source of quarterly employment data,
  • Reconsidering bans on data collection and use; and,
  • Establishing stronger capacity for program evaluation through the creation of dedicated chief evaluation officers and increased coordination across agencies.

The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that addresses some of the first steps toward implementing the Commission’s vision, including the establishment of chief evaluation officers, chief data officers, an interagency advisory committee, and updates to privacy and security law. WDQC published a blog summarizing that legislation.

WDQC looks forward to providing additional information in the future, and working with other interested parties to make progress on this important agenda.


Posted In: Data and Credentials, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff Testifies Before the D.C. Council

On Tuesday, WDQC Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff testified at the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development hearing about B22-0401, the Workforce Development System Transparency Act of 2017. The bill would require the District’s Mayor to develop and annually update a spreadsheet outlining the District’s spending on workforce development programs, as well as the performance outcomes of those programs.

In her testimony, Jenna expressed support for the bill, noting that it could improve District residents’ abilities to find the training that meets their needs, achieve meaningful employment, and ensure that the District is making good investments with taxpayer money.

During her testimony, Jenna noted that this bill could help the District of Columbia keep pace with states that are already tracking the outcomes of their education and workforce programs and making that information available to help policymakers, students, and educators make decisions. In particular, Jenna discussed how information about program outcomes helped one college in California ensure that they were offering high-quality programs. LaunchBoard is an online tool that shows information on student progress through career and technical education courses and into the labor market. Using Launchboard, educators at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz California learned that only twenty-two percent of students who completed the school’s medical assistant program were finding jobs in the healthcare field. They spoke with local employers to find out why. When employers told them that the job requirements for medical assistants had changed substantially since the program’s inception, and now included strong math and language skills in addition to clinical expertise, faculty were able to restructure the program. It became so successful that employers have now asked for it to be replicated elsewhere.

In her written testimony, Jenna also provided several recommendations to make B22-0401 more effective in serving workforce data stakeholders. Suggested changes included:

  • using wage record matching as the primary means of obtaining participant employment outcomes to increase the accuracy of outcomes data and reduce reporting burdens for providers;
  • displaying outcomes information by funding stream, program, and participant demographics in order to ensure that all audiences can easily access the information they need; and
  • utilizing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) common metrics in order to create better alignment between education and workforce development programs.

You can watch Jenna’s full testimony here and Jenna’s written testimony here. WDQC anticipates working with the D.C. Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to amend this bill. We will keep you updated as the process moves forward.

Posted In: District Of Columbia, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Last week, Montana’s Department of Labor & Industry (MTDLI) and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) released a new report entitled "Meeting State Worker Demand: A report on the Labor Market Outcomes for Montana Colleges." The report answers two particularly important questions:

          (1) Are Montana’s colleges producing enough graduates to meet employer demand? and

          (2) What are Montana graduates’ employment outcomes one, three, and five years after graduation?

This report will be helpful for policymakers and program managers, who can make policy changes (such as creating more or different education and training programs) to ensure that the state’s education and training system is meeting the skill needs of Montana employers. Students can also use this information to make better decisions about their educational options.

The report contains data from sixteen colleges who participate in the Montana University System data warehouse, as well as two other institutions that submitted data solely for this report. This data was linked with Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records maintained by the MTDLI, tax data maintained by the Department of Revenue (DOR), and two and ten-year labor market projections produced by MTDLI in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Linking education and DOR data allowed Montana to get more accurate graduate employment outcomes than many other states have been able to get for similar reports. Because self-employed persons do not participate in the UI program, they cannot be found in UI wage records. Linking with the DOR data allowed the state to find those who are self-employed and others who do not participate in the UI program. In order to comply with strict confidentiality requirements, the DOR provided only aggregate level data to MTDLI.  

WDQC applauds Montana not just for making better information available to policymakers and students, but for committing to using this data to impact policy. The state has already used this data to inform the development of new college-sponsored apprenticeship programs, to create new career pathways, and to inform Missoula College’s strategic planning.

To learn more about Montana’s data infrastructure and use, please visit Montana’s state page


Posted In: Data and Credentials, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

US DOL Reviewing Wage Data Exchange

  ·   By Rachel Zinn,
US DOL Reviewing Wage Data Exchange

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that it will review operations of the Federal Employment Data Exchange System (FEDES), which facilitates state use of data on federal and military employees to report on the outcomes of workforce development programs.

DOL will suspend FEDES starting in January 2018, when its agreement with the state of Maryland to operate the system expires. DOL plans to consult with state and federal leaders to assess the structure of FEDES, as well as its costs and benefits, and evaluate the feasibility of a system overhaul. Discussions are expected to take about six months.

FEDES launched in 2003 to help states do more complete performance reporting for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs. The exchange system allows states to submit automated queries with information about program participants, and receive back matching employment data from the Department of Defense and the Office of Personnel Management. Currently, 41 states and the District of Columbia participate.

The data from FEDES augments information from Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records, states' primary source of data for calculating post-program employment rates and average earnings. UI wage records are reported quarterly by businesses to state governments, so the data is missing federal employees. That means program participants that move on to work at a federal agency won't show up as employed.

Only about 2 percent of workers nationwide are employed by the federal government, but in some metro areas it's more than 10 percent, so lack of federal employee data can cause noticeable distortions in performance reporting.

DOL also is in the process of working with states to develop a new agreement for sharing quarterly wage records across state lines. State agencies collect these records as part of the Unemployment Insurance program, and they are the primary source for reporting on workforce and education programs' employment outcomes. 

Officials at DOL are revising a draft agreement for the new exchange, currently being called the State Wage Interchange System (SWIS), based on feedback from state leaders. They plan to seek additional state feedback this fall. 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

USDA launches SNAP E&T data grants

  ·   By Christina Pena
USDA launches SNAP E&T data grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new grant opportunity for states to improve their data collection and reporting systems for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T).

All 53 state agencies that administer SNAP may apply for this competitive grant. USDA will select up to nine states to receive awards of $300,000 to $1 million each. Selected states may use the funds over a three-year period to accomplish one or more of the following activities:

  • Training and capacity building, including improving data quality;
  • Developing IT systems to support the collection, reporting, and analysis of data; and/or,
  • Conducting other program improvements that help participants move toward stable, good jobs.  

These activities can help states develop their data systems to meet SNAP E&T national reporting requirements that were set forth last spring. In particular, USDA aims to strengthen states’ ability to use administrative data, including quarterly wage record information, to more efficiently capture the employment and wage outcomes of SNAP E&T participants to monitor program success.

Applications are due by July 31, 2017. For complete information and application instructions, see Funding Opportunity Number SNAP-ETDATA-2017 at

*Workforce Data Quality Campaign is a project of National Skills Coalition. This blog was originally posted on the WDQC website. 

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

WDQC Participates in NY Wage Data Bill Review

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
WDQC Participates in NY Wage Data Bill Review

Last week, WDQC Policy Analyst Jenna Leventoff attended a meeting in Albany, New York about potential amendments to New York Assembly Bill 2164-B. The meeting was hosted by the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Harry B. Bronson.

Assembly Bill 2164-B requires New York’s Department of Labor to provide wage data to three workforce data clearinghouses located within academic institutions in the state. The clearinghouses would be required to evaluate workforce programs and issue reports. This bill would build on a 2013 amendment to State Labor Law Section 537 to allow the New York State Department of Labor to share wage records with government agencies (including public universities) by significantly increasing the state’s analytical capacity. To date, the bill has passed the New York Assembly, and will soon be considered in the New York Senate.

Meeting participants included New York state data users and experts, such as representatives of the State University of New York (SUNY), the City University of New York (CUNY), the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP), and the Center for an Urban Future. WDQC was invited to provide a national context for the collection and use of workforce data.

During the meeting, participants discussed the value of labor market and wage data, including how it can help promote program improvement, economic development, policymaking, and student decision making. Participants also provided advice as to the types of data agreements the state could enter into, and what the composition of the clearinghouse’s Board of Advisors should be. 

WDQC is pleased to provide input as this bill moves forward, and is thankful to Assembly Member Bronson for working to enable better use of existing data in New York. 


Posted In: New York, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Utah Bill Bolsters Workforce Data

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Utah Bill Bolsters Workforce Data

New legislation, UT SB 194, replaces Utah’s longitudinal data system, the Utah Data Alliance (UDA) with the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC). In doing so, this bill changes the system’s governance model, builds the state’s research capacity, institutionalizes inter-agency data sharing, and promotes data use.

SB 194 creates the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC) as a program within the Department of Workforce Services. Although Utah has long been a model for data governance, this bill shifts governance to a method that the Utah legislature believes will better suit its goals of unified decision making. The UDA was governed by a cross-agency council composed of individuals representing each agency contributing data. Under SB 194, however, UDRC will be governed by a director who can create a comprehensive vision and research agenda. The UDRC will still maintain a cross-agency advisory board, composed of representatives from K-12, postsecondary, career and technical education, workforce services, and health agencies.

In addition to implementing a new governance model, the bill increases the state’s research capacity by shifting research from individual agencies to the UDRC, and by allowing the UDRC to hire necessary staff. Previously, research was conducted by individual agencies, who had limited capacity to conduct research of interest to external stakeholders such as the legislature or the public.

Furthermore, SB 194 ensures the sustainability of the UDRC by mandating data submission from the State Board of Education, the State Board of Regents, the Utah College of Applied Technology, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Department of Health. Previously, these agencies contributed data voluntarily, and could pull out of the alliance for any reason.

Finally, this bill encourages greater data use by requiring the UDRC to create an “online data visualization portal” that will provide the public and others with access to linked, aggregated, and de-identified data. Users can query data, and view that data in a customizable way.

This law will go into effect on July 1, 2017. WDQC is pleased to see states institutionalizing strong data practices, and creating data governance policies that are best suited to their states. 

Posted In: Utah, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Institutions Produce Actionable Data

  ·   By Jenna Leventoff,
Institutions Produce Actionable Data

Data can help students succeed. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) show this in 14 recently released case studies, describing how higher education institutions are using student-level data to produce actionable information that improves student decision making and outcomes.  

One case study features the University of Texas (UT) System, which partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission to find employment and earnings information about past students. UT uses this data to produce a free online tool, called seekUT, which helps potential students with college and career planning. The tool shows information that will help students consider the costs and benefits of institutions and programs, including the median loan debt of past students, and median earnings of graduates one, five, and 10 years after graduation. The tool also shows industries that are employing UT graduates, so that potential students can seek out high-demand career paths.

Furthermore, Miami Dade College (MDC), the nation’s largest community college, uses data to develop targeted interventions to help students succeed. Influenced by the state’s performance-based funding law, which funds community colleges, in part, based upon job placement and wage rates of graduates, MDC now tracks student employment and entry-level wage rates of students who complete their studies. It establishes cohorts of students starting in a particular semester, and continues to track their status every semester, for eight years. By doing this, MDC can take lessons learned from past trends and apply them toward targeted interventions to help current and future students succeed.

Ultimately, these case studies reveal how data can directly impact student success during and after programs of study. They are intended to illustrate the importance of state longitudinal data systems, as well as more complete national data about postsecondary students.

WDQC has vocally supported both state longitudinal data systems and the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would lift the ban on a federal student record system, thus enabling better national data about postsecondary students.

Posted In: Workforce Data Quality Campaign
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