Report Shows UNG's Regional Impact is $720 Million

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

The University of North Georgia (UNG) made an economic impact of nearly $720 million on northeast Georgia during fiscal year 2020, according to a newly released report. The impact includes $692 million in spending and jobs and an additional $27 million impact attributed to capital construction projects. The annual study of the University System of Georgia's (USG) economic impact measures direct and indirect spending that contributes to the university's service region.

Graduates are also seeing benefits, with a new study showing a Class of 2020 graduate on average earns an additional $852,162 over the course of their career as a result of a degree from a USG institution.

"These reports show that UNG continues to provide extensive and positive impact for the region and our students, even during the COVID-19 pandemic," UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs said. "UNG provides access to a high quality, affordable university education for students from northeast Georgia and beyond, and the region benefits through job creation, revenue for businesses and industry, and additional earning potential for our graduates."

Included in UNG's economic impact is nearly $337 million in spending by about 20,000 students, which alone created 2,881 jobs in the area. On average, for every dollar spent by the university, an additional 47 cents is generated for the region.

The study area for UNG was Barrow, Clarke, Dawson, Fannin, Forsyth, Gilmer, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Oconee, Union, and White counties. These counties are where UNG campuses are located and contiguous communities. Study areas for each school in the report were defined based on the Residence County to Workplace County Flows for Georgia, 2009-2013 from the U.S. Census Bureau.

UNG, which has campuses in Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County, also had a regional employment impact of 6,411 jobs in the same period. The employment impact includes on-campus and off-campus jobs. The report noted that on average, for each job created on campus, two off-campus jobs exist because of spending related to the institution.

As a whole, all USG public colleges and universities in 2020 had a statewide impact of $18.6 billion, a 0.6% increase from the previous year. The system directly and indirectly generated 155,010 jobs.

"With strong support from the state and significant planning from our campuses, USG's economic impact on local communities across Georgia held steady despite a challenging year," Acting Chancellor Teresa MacCartney said. "At the same time, a degree from a USG institution continues to add real value to the lives of our graduates and their families. We remain focused on doing everything in our power to help more Georgians complete college and ensure our state has a well-prepared, highly skilled workforce to grow Georgia's economy."

The annual study is conducted on behalf of the Board of Regents by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, Ph.D., director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. The Selig Center also conducted a companion study led by Humphreys and Alexandra P. Hill titled, "Lifetime Earnings for University System of Georgia Class of 2020." The lifetime earnings report showed how work-life earnings increase substantially with each step up in earned degree.

USG's 2020 graduates who work in Georgia are expected to bring in a combined $175 billion in lifetime earnings, of which $59 billion (34 percent) can be attributed to their degrees.

For UNG's 2020 graduates, those who work in Georgia are expected to bring in a combined $7.5 billion in lifetime earnings, of which nearly $2.8 billion can be attributed to their degrees. UNG conferred 3,178 degrees in 2020.

More specifically, higher education credentials increase the work-life earnings of the median Georgia resident by $238,455 (certificate), $377,000 (associate), and $1,152,500 (bachelor's degree). Beyond a bachelor's degree, a master's degree is worth an additional $247,000 and a professional degree is worth an additional $1,015,000. Finally, a Ph.D. increases work-life earnings by an additional $638,000 over a master's degree.

The full economic impact report and the lifetime earnings report are available online.