New England ranks lowest of any US region for retaining college students after graduation, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

And one reason why may be the availability of jobs, suggested a policy brief prepared by the bank’s New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Such rival states as New York and California retained more than three-quarters of their 2008 recent college graduates, the brief found. By comparison, the retention rate for Vermont was 20 percent, and the rate for Massachusetts was 52 percent.

“Only 63.6 percent of the 2008 graduating class were still living in New England one year after graduation — the lowest retention rate in the nation,” the brief’s author, senior economist Alicia Sasser Modestino, said in a statement.


“Contrary to conventional wisdom, recent college graduates are leaving New England primarily for job-related reasons - not housing costs,” Modestino added. “This suggests that states can take tangible steps to retain more recent college graduates by building stronger ties between colleges and employers.”

Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people between the ages of 22 and 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher in New England grew by only 12.1 percent, less than 1/3 the national increase,” Modestino’s research found.

One potential result of that trend: An inadequate supply of skilled workers that may hamper New England’s economic growth.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.