Utah economy draws BYU graduates

The BYU University Career Services Office surveyed students who graduated in April, August and December 2016 and found 56.3 percent of them stay in Utah after graduating. (Rachel Andrews)

Over half of BYU graduates are staying in Utah for jobs. Salt Lake City is the best place to start a career, ranking first in both professional opportunities and quality of life, according to a WalletHub report. A second 2017 report from WalletHub ranks Salt Lake City number eight in best cities for jobs overall.

Where do BYU grads go for jobs?

Only 35 percent of BYU students come from Utah, but more than half of BYU graduates stay in the state after completing their degrees. Officials at University Career Services  started collecting data from the June 2016, August 2016 and December 2016 graduating classes, and are surveying the April 2017 graduates. University Career Services Director Jodi Chowen said the data is a snapshot but feels it is in line with the trend they have been aware of.

I think that it is in part due to the great economy that we have right now (in Utah) and that there are a lot of opportunities right now,” Chowen said.

BYU grads typically stay in the Intermountain West; however, it depends on the industry. The top five states where graduates relocate to after graduation are Utah, California, Texas, Arizona and Washington. The numbers include graduates with full-time or part-time employment and those attending or planning on attending graduate school.

Chowen said the results are similar to the data the Marriott School of Business has been collecting for years. 

“Texas has been a real growth area for our students in recent years,” Chowen said. “The Marriott School has made a lot of efforts around the Dallas area, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences has great connections in the Austin area.”

Plano, Texas, ranks number two in overall best cities for jobs, according to one WalletHub report. Texas cities Dallas and Austin rank 22nd and 23rd, respectively.

Chowen said engineering graduates tend to move to the Midwest, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan because that’s where their industry is, while communications students have good connections in New York and political science grads may head to Washington, D.C.

Two WalletHub reports ranked Salt Lake City in the top cities for jobs and starting a career. The Utah 2017 Economic Report to the Governor indicated Utah’s job economy is currently strong. (Rachel Andrews)

What makes a city great for jobs?

WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 most populated cities across the United States to determine the overall best cities for jobs. They evaluated two key categories: job market and socioeconomic environment. Analysts looked at job opportunities, employment growth, annual income, time spent commuting and housing. Salt Lake City ranked number two for most job opportunities.

Utah added 49,500 new jobs in 2016, as every major industrial sector expanded, according to the 2017 Economic Report to the Governor. Utah’s 3.6 percent employment growth was above the state’s long-term average and more than double the national rate of 1.7 percent.

Analysts considered starting salaries, number of entry-level jobs, job growth, housing and population age for WalletHub’s report on the best places to start a career. Salt Lake City tied for first in most entry-level jobs.

Richard Boyatzis, professor of organizational behavior, psychology and cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University, said choosing a city in which to start a career depends on a number of factors. Personal interests, marital and family status, and intended field or career all influence the decision.

Boyatzis said the biggest career mistake young people make is going for a job with visible benefits such as money or status.

“Great careers often begin in low status and low paying roles,” Boyatzis said in the report.

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