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Economic Success Measures (ESM) is a partnership between the American Institutes for Research and Matrix Knowledge Group.  According to their website, they are “focused on using data to drive improvement in higher education outcomes in the United States.  We have created this partnership because we are deeply concerned about improving higher education in the United States, and we believe that important underlying data is underexposed and underutilized by students, parents, policymakers, and even by institutions themselves.”
The Economic Success Measures (ESM) website presents data that were provided by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).  CDHE provided graduate data from the Student Unit Record Data System (SURDS), while earnings data were provided by the CDLE.   
Other states that already have their data presented via the ESM website include Tennessee, Virginia, and Arkansas.  Texas and Nevada data will be posted soon.

Data Limitations

ESM develops its own reports/summaries of the state earnings data. Examples include:
There are several significant limitations associated with these data.  Here are a few of the most important ones to note:  
  • The CDLE data do NOT include individuals:
    >> working out-of-state, self-employed persons, and those working for the federal government
    pursuing further education who are not also employed
  • The percentage of degree completers with earnings data varies widely across disciplines and may not be representative of all who completed degrees.  Data will be suppressed if fewer than 5 individuals or less than 15% of degree completers have earnings data.
  • The percentage of degree completers with earnings data does NOT reflect employment rate.
  • Earnings data are not differentiated by full- and part-time employment.
  • It cannot be discerned from these data if the student was employed within his/her degree discipline.
  • Because these earnings data reflect the one-year period beginning six months after degree completion, they cannot represent lifetime earning potential, nor may they be representative of true earnings (e.g., MD degree recipients are most likely in a medical residency at the time represented by these data).
  • Data definitions and disclosure specifications are state-specific, so comparisons across states are largely inappropriate.


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