State university system schools pumped more than $1.5 billion into the Augusta economy during the past fiscal year, according to an economic study released Tuesday.
Most of that impact, according to the study by the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, is generated by Georgia Health Sciences University and its hospital and clinics, which contributed an estimated $1.4 billion to the regional economy during the 2011 fiscal year. The university is responsible for $853 million of that total.
Augusta State University accounted for $188 million.
The 35 institutions of the University System of Georgia had an economic impact of $13.2 billion on the state’s economy, up from $12.6 billion in 2010. Most of the total economic impact was due to initial spending by the institutions for salaries and fringe benefits, operating supplies and expenses, other budgeted expenditures, and spending by the students who attended the institutions.
The system generated nearly 132,000 jobs, more than 3 percent of all the nonfarm jobs in Georgia.
“Comparisons of the FY 2011 estimates to those for recent years show that our public college and universities really proved their economic worth during tough economic times” said Jeffrey Humphreys, director of the Selig Center, and the study’s author. The Selig Center has been producing the annual economic impact report since 1999.
In the Augusta region, the study found that ASU and GHSU produce 18,123 jobs.
The study showed that between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2011, total spending by all 35 institutions and their students rose by 30 percent. The number of jobs that owe their existence to that spending rose by 24 percent – from 106,267 jobs to 131,990 jobs.
“That job growth is quite impressive given that the state’s total employment declined by 7 percent during this period,” Humphreys said. “Without exception, each college or university is an economic linchpin of its host community.”
Humphreys said that’s mostly due to rising demand for higher education even when overall economic conditions deteriorate.
On average, for each job that exists on campus, two off-campus jobs exist because of spending related to the institution. Almost all of the off-campus jobs are in private sector businesses.