There's a line in the PGR that caught my eye recently. It says that " Faculty quality and reputation correlates quite well with job placement..." ("What the rankings mean," sentence #2.) The thing is, I wonder how well the PGR rankings really correlates with job placement. This is unscientific, but I remember reading a while back about Michigan's placement record, and how something like a quarter of their graduates over a 10-year period hadn't managed to secure tenure track employment. My Ph.D.-granting institution is way down the rankings from Michigan, but back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that we have a better placement record, on a certain conception of "better." That is, although Michiganders get cushy jobs with low course loads at ranked departments at a higher rate than we do, our people seem to get jobs--any job at all--at a higher rate than they do. (Of course, we don't often get cushy research jobs, and we often spend a few years on the market, so it's not all golden.)
So I wonder if anyone has looked into this in any detail. If all you want is a job--any job--is it better to come from somewhere in the middle of the rankings?