Public higher education generated $20 billion impact on Georgia’s economy

The University System of Georgia is an economic engine for Georgia and contributes to $183 billion in additional lifetime income for those who graduated in 2022
Photo of the Arch on UGA's north campus taken from Broad Street looking onto campus

New research from the Terry College of Business Selig Center for Economic Growth found the University System of Georgia (USG) had an annual impact of $20.1 billion on the state’s economy and generated more than 150,000 full- and part-time jobs during fiscal year 2022.

In the annual study conducted on behalf of the USG, Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center, found USG’s impact grew by 4.14% — or $800 million — between fiscal year 2021 and 2022. The university system generated 159,034 full- and part-time jobs over the same period.

As part of a companion study released this week, Humphreys found USG bachelor’s graduates from the 2022 class of 2022 will earn more than $1 million more during their lifetimes than they would have without a college degree.

“USG’s 26 public colleges and universities, individually and collectively, make a significant economic impact across the state, helping to put Georgians to work while spending money in local communities and helping their regional economies support Georgia’s growth,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue said. “At the same time, our graduates are the real winners with this million-dollar deal. We’re focused on continuing to help all our students be successful as they use their degrees to prepare themselves for their future prosperity.”

USG’s $20.1 billion impact included $14.2 billion in initial student spending and personnel and operating expenses by USG’s 26 institutions. The remaining $5.9 billion is the multiplier impact of those funds in a local community.

Of the 159,034 jobs generated by USG institutions, approximately 32% of the positions are on-campus jobs and 68% are off-campus. Each job created by a USG institution on its campus supports two additional jobs in the local community.

Data also show USG institutions create the same employment impact in the state as Georgia’s top five employers combined.

In the companion study on graduate earnings, Humphreys found the 71,731 USG graduates from the 2022 class can expect a total lifetime earnings of $183 billion, $60 billion more than they could expect if they didn’t go to college or graduate school.

According to the study, higher education positively impacts graduate earnings at all levels.

On average, those who earn a certificate will earn $238,455 more. Those who attain an associate’s degree earn $377,000 more; with a bachelor’s degree, $1.15 million more; a master’s degree, $1.4 million more; a professional degree, $2.17 million more; and a PhD, $2 million more.

“In sum, higher education pays off, especially for high school graduates who obtain bachelor’s degrees,” the report said.

The Selig Center for Economic Growth is a public service and outreach unit within the University of Georgia Terry College of Business. The center provides applied economic analysis to support informed financial and policy decisions in every sector of the state’s economy.

(Article first published by Kristina Torres at the University System of Georgia)