New report: State’s public colleges and universities generate jobs, economic growth

Kennesaw State University and Georgia’s other public campuses are economic engines for their areas and the state.

Georgia has a better higher education system than might be expected when you look at related factors, including the level of support and interference from politicians.

The Legislature often treats the University System of Georgia as an unruly and spoiled child who needs correction. College presidents spend a lot of time bowing and scraping to lawmakers over often silly issues.

When I was at the Education Writers Association conference in June, Georgia’s higher ed system came up several times in presentations, always in a positive light.

My plea to the Legislature: Don’t ruin this. Here is more reason to preserve and promote the state’s public institutions of higher learning. This is from the University System:

The University System of Georgia’s economic impact on the state was $16.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2016 according to the most recent study conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

The University System’s economic impact grew $1.3 billion, an increase of 8 percent, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016. The increase is attributed to “spending by the institution and spending by the students who attend that particular college or university.” On average, for every dollar spent by the university, an additional 52 cents is generated for that institution’s region.

“The University System is committed to its role in supporting and advancing the economic growth of the State of Georgia,” said Chancellor Steve Wrigley. “These numbers reflect the hard work and support of Georgians across the state, and we hope to continue to drive innovation, workforce development and job creation for years to come.”

The economic impact of the USG is a measure of direct and indirect spending that contributes to the regions served by the System’s colleges and universities.

Most of the $16.8 billion economic impact consists of initial spending by USG institutions for salaries and fringe benefits, operating expenses and other budgeted expenditures, as well as spending by the students who attended the institutions. Initial spending by USG institutions and students equaled approximately $11 billion, or almost 66 percent of the total economic impact. The remaining $5.8 billion (34 percent) of the economic impact was created by respending, which is the multiplier effect of the dollars that are spent again in the region.

The FY16 study found that the University System generated nearly 157,967 full- and part-time jobs – 3.6 percent of all jobs in Georgia. Approximately 32 percent of these positions are on campus as USG employees and 68 percent are off-campus positions in either the private or public sectors.

To calculate the economic impact for FY16, the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business analyzed data collected between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. The annual study is conducted on behalf of the Board of Regents by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, Ph.D., director of the Selig Center.

The full study with data for all USG institutions is available here

Reader Comments 0


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Tired, old recitation of conservative dogma not withstanding, it would really be interesting to see the private sector try and function without state supported educational institutions that play such a big part in developing good workers.  Also, it is ridiculous to think that private companies do not also take taxpayer money.  The question really is can any private company claim the kind of bang for the public buck that the USG can?


So, 25000 employees and about 30000 students descend on a medium size town such as Athens Ga.  Of course it is going to have a financial impact.  

What this study fails to mention is that while Mom and Dad are forking over money for tuition, books and room & board, other expenditures get placed on the back burner.


Virtually any large investment generates jobs and economic growth. Reducing taxes so families have more of their income to spend or invest likewise generates jobs and economic growth.

And private sector jobs are far better for the future economy. We can't all make our living off the taxpayers.