A new study says public universities in Michigan have a combined “economic footprint” of about $24 billion and are responsible for more than 120,000 full-time equivalent jobs statewide. These impacts are detailed in a new report by the Anderson Economic Group that was commissioned by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
The report analyzed each institution’s local spending, earnings and employment. According to the most recent 2012 data, Northern Michigan University accounts for $227 million in spending. The bulk of that—$123 million—is attributed to students. NMU recorded earnings of $81 million and supplies about 1,300 jobs.
“Those of us in higher education are well aware that universities serve as key employers and play a major role in driving their local economies. This report helps to quantify that impact,” said NMU President David Haynes. “It also demonstrates that Michigan receives a very favorable economic return on its investment in our public universities. We hope that state legislators carefully review the information and realize that continued support is necessary to preserve the benefits associated with spending and job creation.”
Other highlights of the report: the 1.3 million public university alumni who live in the state (more than 35,000 are NMU graduates) earned $47 billion in wages and salaries in 2012; total enrollment, currently exceeding 300,000 students, grew by 4 percent from 2003-2012, despite a shrinking state population and major cuts in state support per student; annual degree completions increased faster during that same period, by 13 percent; and 32 percent of university non-payroll spending went toward construction in 2012, providing employment in a vital industry while ensuring adequate facilities for students and researchers.
“We have been asked by policymakers to be accountable and transparent before they will make major investments in our higher education system, which has suffered disproportionately from state budget cuts in the last decade,” said Michael Bolus, executive director of the Presidents Council. “This is another tool we can use to show our commitment to being open about university impact on Michigan.”