Education

Most Florida 2015 grads found decent jobs, study finds — but women, blacks make less

A graduating student wears a cap reading "hire me," as the City College of New York (CCNY) class of 2016 assemble for commencement, Friday June 3, 2016, in New York.
A graduating student wears a cap reading "hire me," as the City College of New York (CCNY) class of 2016 assemble for commencement, Friday June 3, 2016, in New York. AP

Florida’s class of 2015 university graduates are mostly employed and mostly well-paid — with some notable salary gaps for women and black people.

A recent study from the Board of Governors, which oversees all of Florida’s public universities and colleges, found 92 percent of Florida university graduates were employed a year out of school, and 72 percent of employed students worked full-time.

Full-time workers raked in a median of nearly $40,000 — but a further breakdown shows a gap of $5,500 between what men and women make. The study found women made an annual median wage of $37,000, while men pulled in a median salary of $42,500.

For black graduates (12 percent of the graduating class) the median annual wage was lower still — $35,600.

Data shows black graduates have the biggest gap in the health services field, where their median salaries are $8,700 lower than the average. That pattenn repeats for most degrees analyzed in the report.

These gaps are a concern for Christy England, the associate vice chancellor for academic research and policy for the Board of Governors, who presented the report.

“What we would really like to see is the median wage for all groups to be closer together,” she said.

The gender difference in salaries also stands because women make up almost 60 percent of the class of 2015.

Statewide, the trend for 2015 grads reflects a wage gap that applies to all women in the state.They made 87 percent of what men earned in 2015, according to research from the American Association of University Women. This is higher than the study’s national average of 80 percent, but it’s an average for all races. For women of color, the gap is larger.

The wage gap can partially be explained by choice of career field, with men still going into traditionally male dominated fields like construction and engineering and more women pursuing fields like education and office work, which the report called “occupational segregation.” But more women joining predominantly male fields isn’t enough to correct the gap, the report said.

One such example is the stark differences between Florida graduates with agriculture degrees. Even though there were an almost equal amount of 2015 grads — 108 women to 102 men — men’s median salary was $9,400 higher.

England said she hopes students use these findings to show employers and advocate for higher salaries on par with their male or white counterparts.

Those study did not include 11 percent of the more the 60,000 students that graduated that year. Those students either lived in states like California or New York that don’t participate in the data exchange Florida used to find employed students, or weren’t in official employment databases.

Still, England was pleased that she could find 89 percent of graduates in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

“That is super exciting,” she said.

A third of the students England found also pursued more education after graduating with their bachelors degree, and three quarters of those enrolled were working, too.

To qualify as “working,” students had to be drawing any kind of salary — “even a dollar,” England said — in the year after graduation. The salary analysis only included students working full-time.

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