UIC pours $7.6B into Illinois economy annually

ARC building and Chicago skyline

UIC pumps $7.6 billion into the state economy annually, according to an economic impact study. Photo: Fan Wang

By University Relations

The University of Illinois System pumps $17.5 billion into the Illinois economy annually — including $7.6 billion from UIC — and supports 171,000 jobs, which accounts for one in every 46 jobs across the state, according to a new economic impact study.

Through spending by its three universities, employees, students and the increased earnings power of its graduates, the U of I System accounts for 2.2 percent of Illinois’ gross state product, nearly matching the total of the entire hotel and food services industry, based on findings presented to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

The system is also an investment that pays dividends for both students and taxpayers, according to the study by Idaho-based Emsi, an international labor market analytics firm that has completed more than 1,800 studies for higher education institutions.

The study found that UIC contributes $7.6 billion to the state economy annually. That accounts for 1 percent of gross state product and is also larger than the state’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry. The university supports about 73,500 jobs, representing one of every 106 jobs across the state.

For every dollar that UIC students put into their education, they receive $5.30 in career earnings – a 16.5 percent annual return. The average bachelor’s degree graduate will earn $29,500 more annually than a high school graduate, netting about $1.3 million more in career earnings.

For every dollar that students put into their education across the university system, including out-of-pocket costs and income lost while they study rather than work, they receive $5 in career earnings – a 15.4 percent annual return, the study found. By comparison, the average 30-year return on the U.S. stock market is 10.1 percent, according to Emsi.

Every taxpayer dollar invested in the U of I System nets $2.40, or a 6.4 percent annual return over the course of students’ lifetimes, according to the study.

The U of I System’s annual impact is up nearly 26 percent since Emsi’s last analysis three years ago. The $3.6 billion in growth is a result of factors such as rising enrollments over the past six years and the addition of operations that were not included in the last analysis, such as the system’s healthcare enterprise.

“I am thrilled that our universities continue to have such a dramatic impact on the lives of our students and the fortunes of our state,” said Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System. “The study’s findings reinforce our value to students and taxpayers, alike, and signal that we never stop working to better serve our crucial role in moving Illinois forward.”

Among other findings of the study, based on data for the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017:

  • The spending of hundreds of thousands of alumni who live and work in Illinois accounted for $10.1 billion of the system’s $17.5 billion annual impact. Academic and research operations contributed $4.9 billion; hospital and health care operations, $1.5 billion; companies launched through research, nearly $679 million; student spending, nearly $306 million; and spending by visitors to the universities, nearly $40 million.
  • The study documented substantial earning power for U of I System alumni. For example, the average bachelor’s degree graduate from U of I universities will earn $30,300 more annually than a high school graduate, netting about $1.3 million more in career earnings.
  • The U of I System supports more than 171,000 jobs in Illinois through the operations of its universities and healthcare enterprise, the companies launched through its research, and the spending of students, visitors and alumni. With 7.8 million jobs in Illinois, the study found that one of every 46 are supported by the system’s operations and its graduates.
  • The state also benefits from the enhanced well-being of U of I graduates, who contribute to their communities through higher rates of employment, better health, and lower rates of crime compared to non-graduates.

The Emsi study also analyzed the specific impact of the U of I System’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The 2015 report, based on fiscal year 2014 financial data, looked only at the system as a whole.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pumps $8.9 billion into the state economy annually. That accounts for 1.1 percent of gross state product and is larger than the state’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry. The university supports more than 88,000 jobs, representing one of every 89 jobs across the state.
For every dollar that Urbana-Champaign students put into their education, they receive $4.70 in career earnings – a 14.5 percent annual return. The average bachelor’s degree graduate will earn $30,800 more annually than a high school graduate, netting about $1.4 million more in career earnings.

The University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) adds nearly $834 million to the state economy annually, and supports more than 8,100 jobs.

For every dollar that UIS students put into their education, they receive $6.30 in career earnings – a 20.1 percent annual return. The average bachelor’s degree graduate will earn $30,500 more annually than a high school graduate, netting about $1.2 million more in career earnings.

A summary of the system and university studies is available at go.uillinois.edu/EconomicImpact.

Killeen said additional studies are currently underway to analyze the projected impact of the Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network, statewide research and education initiatives that the U of I System is leading to drive discovery and economic growth.