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Economic Impact Study

Educational Value Means Economic Value

Each year, Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges, their students and their former students add $20.5 billion to the state’s economy. This economic growth translates into 321,549 jobs and about 5.1 percent of the gross state product. It all adds up to more opportunities and a stronger economy for the people of Washington state. 

This was the conclusion of a 2016 economic impact study, "Analysis of the Return on Investment and Economic Impact of Education: The Economic Value of Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges," conducted by Emsi, using an economic impact model that has been field-tested in hundreds of colleges in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

$20.5 billion added to Washington state's economy each year by the state's community and technical colleges

Most of the added income —  $18.7 billion — came from higher wages and increased productivity from alumni. This supported about 290,296 jobs. College operations added another $1.2 billion or 20,678 jobs, and student spending accounted for $612.1 million or 10,575 jobs.

$2.80 return on investment for each dollar a student spends on a Washington state community or technical college

The study also calculated the return on investment for students, taxpayers and society. Among the findings:

  • For every dollar a student spends on a community or technical college education, that student receives $2.80 in higher future income. A student’s average annual rate of return is 12.8%.
  • For every taxpayer dollar the state invests, it gets back $1.70 in tax revenues.
  • Overall, for every dollar spent on colleges — whether from students, state and local governments, or other Washington residents — society as a whole receives $5.70 in added state revenue and social savings. The savings come from reduced crime, lower unemployment, and better health and well-being across the state.

Economic Impact Study Fast Facts


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Last Modified: 6/13/23, 10:02 AM

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