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Interactive tools chart migration of college graduates, international students

May 17, 2018

For the economic development community as a whole, the issue of retaining and attracting talent is of the utmost importance. While a visualization in a Wall Street Journal article looks at where graduates move after college, an interactive analysis by the Pew Research Center examines where foreign student graduates work in the United States. Taken together, these two tools allow the user to learn more about their region by shedding light on the destinations of recent domestic and international college graduates.

The WSJ analysis by Danny Dougherty, Brian McGill, Dante Chinni and Aaron Zitner uses data from the labor-market research firm EMSI, which collected information on alumni from 445 colleges and universities in the U.S. They also show the movement of graduates to the 70 largest metropolitan areas, as well as the share of graduates that move to smaller communities. While cities with concentrations in finance, tech, and government services – places like New York City, Boston, San Francisco, or Washington D.C. – are able to attract talent from schools across the country, other cities like Las Vegas have less of a national draw, they find. As a way of categorizing universities by broad geographic region, the authors look at the NCAA’s Power Five athletic conferences. Of these schools, graduates of Big East schools are the most likely to locate in larger metros (87.0 percent), while graduates of the Southeastern Conference are the least likely (60.8 percent).

The Pew analysis by Neil Ruiz and Abby Budiman uses data from the U.S. government’s Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign graduates to seek temporary work anywhere in the country that is directly related to their field of study. The number of foreign STEM graduates participating in the program grew by 400 percent from 2008, when the extension was introduced, to 2016. The OPT is becoming a more popular pathway for foreign graduates, especially as H-1B visa applications regularly surpass their annual caps. In recent years, these approvals have outpaced H-1B visa approvals. Regions such as New York (85 percent foreign student retention), Seattle (84 percent), and Honolulu (83 percent) were especially adept at retaining foreign students graduating from local colleges. The metropolitan areas with the largest share of foreign graduates in the OPT program coming from other metros were San Jose (71 percent), Kansas City (69 percent), and Peoria (66 percent).


workforce, international, higher ed