The Future of the Skilled Labor Force in New England: The Supply of Recent College Graduates

Research Reports coverNew England Public Policy Center Research Report No. 08-1
by Alicia Sasser

This report investigates an issue critical to the region’s economy: our ability to attract and retain college graduates to meet current and future labor force needs. Many are concerned that an inadequate supply of skilled workers in New England will deter companies looking to locate or expand within the region.  Since 2000, the population of recent college graduates in New England has been growing more slowly than other parts of the United States.  This research report investigates the factors that affect the stock of recent college graduates, how those factors have changed over time, and their relative importance in explaining the slower growth of this segment of the labor force.

Dr. Sasser finds that, although migration has played a relatively small role over time, retaining more of those recent college graduates educated in New England may offer the most promising and immediate channel to expand the stock of recent college graduates.  Yet contrary to the usual litany of reasons offered to explain why individuals leave New England—cold winters, high cost of living—our research shows that recent college graduates report leaving the region primarily for employment reasons.  Better matching of recent graduates from New England institutions with jobs and employers around the region could be a promising strategy.  Stronger partnerships between universities and industry groups, as well as statewide or regional job clearinghouses may also provide an opportunity to reach this new generation of workers.

In May 2013,  Retaining Recent College Graduates in New England: An Update on Current Trends was released as an update to this report.

Full report pdf

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The Future of the Skilled Labor Force in New England: The Supply of Recent College Graduates. This September 2008 forum released the Center research report with the same title and was co-hosted with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.


Briefed the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (May 13, 2008)
Briefed Dan O'Connell, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic
Development (August 13, 2008)
Briefed the New England Governors Council (December 3, 2008)
Presentation to New England Association for Schools and Colleges (December 3, 2009)
Briefed UMass Amherst (January 8, 2009)
Presentation at Boston University (December 4, 2008)
Presentation to MassJobs (October 14, 2008)
Briefed the Malden Chamber of Commerce

Responding to policy recommendations provided by the Center's research, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce launched an initiative to promote internships as a tool to retain more young professionals and to promote a strong workforce for the region. The initiative included the following:

An April 2009 workshop that supported employers in developing strategic internship programs and provided an opportunity for business professionals, colleges and universities to connect.

A July 2009 forum to educate summer interns working at Boston-area firms about the advantages of the region. This intern forum was repeated in 2010 and 2011, and hosted at the Boston Fed.

Chamber Intern Connect, a web-based service provided by the Chamber to help connect college students and recent graduates with local employers.

Read the 2013 press release about this initiative and the bank's continued involvement.

Retaining Recent College Graduates in New England: An Update on Current Trends
by Alicia Sasser Modestino
NEPPC Policy Brief 13-2

The Middle-Skills Gap: Ensuring an Adequate Supply of Skilled Labor in Northern and Southern New England
by Julia Dennett and Alicia Sasser Modestino
NEPPC Policy Brief 11-1

Mismatch in the Labor Market: Measuring the Supply of and Demand for Skilled Labor in New England
by Alicia Sasser
NEPPC Research Report 10-2

“The Future of the Skilled Labor Force.” The New England Journal of Higher Education, vol. XXIII, No. 3 (2009)pdf

Lasting Connections: Using Internships to Retain Recent College Graduates in New England
by Alicia Sasser
Policy Brief 09-3

Retention of Recent College Graduates in New England
by Alicia Sasser
NEPPC Policy Brief 09-2

The Supply of Recent College Graduates in New England
by Alicia Sasser
NEPPC Policy Brief 09-1

Smart Places, Getting Smarter: Facts about the Young Professional Population in New England States
by Heather Brome
NEPPC Discussion Paper 09-1

Is New England Experiencing a "Brain Drain"? Facts about Demographic Change and Young Professionals
by Heather Brome
NEPPC Discussion Paper 07-3

To review other Center research about regional labor market trends and demographics, please visit our research index.

The Future of the Skilled Labor Force: What is the Role for Public Policy?
Presented to New England Association for Schools and Colleges (December 3, 2009)

The Future of the Skilled Labor Force in New England: The Supply of Recent College Graduates 
Presented to the New England Study Group (December 3, 2008)

The Future of the Skilled Labor Force in New England: The Supply of Recent College Graduates
Presented at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce/Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Breakfast Meeting (September 18, 2008)