Don’t Be Duped by Misleading Labor Market Data

April 11, 2023

Are you using inaccurate data on labor markets to inform your program decisions? If so, your student outcomes could be at risk. Labor market data needs to be thoroughly vetted and cleaned before it should be used to make academic program decisions. 

There is enough misinformation about the value of higher education and preparing graduates for successful career outcomes. Don’t contribute to the fallacy by being duped by bad labor market data.

Are Your Job Postings Double-Counted?

Datasets can have identical entries. For example, you may appear on multiple email lists at your institution. If these lists were combined, you would appear to be multiple people and then counted more than once. Job postings are notorious for being overcounted, appearing to be double or triple the amount that they are. This is because they can appear in multiple places, like job postings sites such as Indeed, employer websites, and LinkedIn.  

To ameliorate this, your data supplier must build sophisticated algorithms and crosswalks to understand what is happening in the data and “de-dupe” or remove the duplicates. These algorithms will also need to work backward to correct issues in historical data.

Data that Is Dead on Arrival

How often is the labor market data you are getting updated? Are you confident it only includes open postings? Given how quickly the job market and in-demand skills change, you should ensure your data is the most current available, typically updated for the most recent month. While there is merit in historical job posting trends, you don’t want to be duped when old, closed job postings are being passed off as current opportunities. We call this DDOA: Data that is Dead Upon Arrival. Invest in vibrant, accurate labor market data instead.

Smooth Operator

Smoothing is identifying and removing anomalies and outliers using advanced algorithms to eliminate random variation. Although this isn’t easy to do, it provides more accurate data. Think of it as removing the crackling noise, clicking, or echoing during a bad phone connection, so you can hear more clearly and better discern the conversation. 

Understanding what goes into labor market data will keep you from being duped and help you make data-informed decisions. 

To read about other misleading labor market data sources, click here.

Mary Ann Romans


Mary Ann creates, defines, and executes the content marketing strategy at Gray, collaborating with the entire team to support our higher education partners through effective communication and provision of critical industry information.

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Gray Associates, Inc. is a software and services firm focused on higher education. We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.

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