While the job sector remains sluggish as the economy recovers from a recession, universities in the Washington area are employment hubs, pumping $11.3 billion into the region annually, according to a report by George Mason University.

The study, which was commissioned by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, revealed that universities have as much impact as the hospitality industry. As the largest private employers in D.C. and its environs, the 14 institutions support nearly 200,000 jobs, according to the study. In total, school employees who live in the region earn $3 billion annually.

According to a June 1 release by the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), jobs in the educational sector increased by 2,800 jobs in April. The spike likely contributed to a 0.4 percent drop in the unemployment rate, down to 5.5 percent.
DOES found that the private sector increased by 15,000 jobs, while the public sector decreased by 4,300 jobs.

Along with jobs, universities fuel more volunteerism and consumer spending, which boost the local economy, the study found. College students give more than 600,000 hours of public service to the community and boast 10,000 seats in places that host live theater performances, the report found. Employers flock to campuses seeking talent, most of whom will eventually stay in the area after graduation.

Kim Griffo, executive director of the International Town and Gown Association, an organization at Clemson University that brings government and college officials together, said findings in the report may help prevent future budget cuts for area universities.

“It is vital that host cities have a clear understanding of the total ‘dollars’ that this study
provides; it captures the most detailed inventory of economic contributions and the character of place,” Griffo stated in a press release by the consortium.

“To have a study of this magnitude take place in D.C. is tremendously important so legislators from across our nation have a full understanding of the importance of living, learning economies, to work with them and not smother and stifle these economic engines with budget cuts.”

The study shows that 63 percent of students that matriculate at the consortium’s member institutions moved to the Washington region to go to college.

The study, “Capital Assets: Economic Impact and Beyond,” is the largest study conducted by the consortium.

 

Erica Butler

AFRO Staff Writer