Workforce Preparation and Employment Outcomes

Average Annual Earnings and Earnings Growth: Illinois

Earnings for Illinois Community College program completers, by field of study and age

What Is Measured?

Average pre-enrollment and post-completion annual earnings and income gains for Illinois Community College 2004-05 program completers employed in the first of the second quarter following program completion

Who Is Counted?

Illinois Community College 2004-05 program completers

What It Tells Us

Overall, program completers experienced an average earnings increase of $6,600 (from $8,700 to $15,300). Program completers 24 years old and younger had the largest gains, but they also had the lowest pre-enrollment earnings. Program completers in the field of health experienced the largest earnings gains ($11,700), followed by program completers in STEM ($8,000).

Why It's Important

Many students enroll in community colleges to gain new skills so that they can improve their employment prospects. Numerous studies have found that median earnings for individuals with associate degrees are higher than median earnings for high school graduates. Even individuals who attend community college but do not complete a degree have higher earnings than those whose education stops at high school. Fewer studies have examined vocational certificates at the national level, but their results are consistent with the research on associate degrees, with certificate recipients showing a substantial advantage in earnings.

About the Data

Program completers: students who completed at least a one-credit hour program.

Age: at time of enrollment.

STEM: includes engineering and engineering-related technologies, computer and information sciences, and agricultural business and production.

Health: includes health professions and related sciences.

Business: includes business management and administration services.

Social sciences and humanities: includes liberal arts and sciences, general studies, humanities, multi/interdisciplinary studies, foreign languages and literatures, and visual and performing arts.

Other non-STEM: includes communications; communication technologies; construction trades; education; home economics; law and legal studies; library science; mechanics and repairers; parks, recreation, leisure and fitness; precision production trades; protective services; public administration and services; and transportation and materials moving.

Employment data come from the Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage record data reported by Illinois employers. This data source is estimated to cover 96 percent of total wage and salary civilian jobs. However, it does not provide information about certain types of employment, including self-employment and some agricultural and domestic work. UI wage records also do not indicate the number of hours worked or the position held. Estimates were calculated using data from the original source.

Data Source

The Center for Governmental Studies, Northern Illinois University. (2007, May). The economic impact of Illinois community colleges: A report to the Illinois Community College Board. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University.