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Report shows nearly $723 million impact on northeast Georgia economy

A report showed nearly $723 million in economic impact by UNG in the northeast Georgia region during the 2019 fiscal year.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) made an economic impact of nearly $723 million on northeast Georgia during fiscal year 2019, according to a newly released report. The impact includes more than $699 million in spending and jobs and an additional $23.9 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.

Additionally, a companion study indicates that a Class of 2019 graduate is predicted to earn $888,563 more over the course of their career as a result of their degree from a USG institution.

"These reports reaffirm the extensive and positive impact UNG makes on our communities and for the futures of our students," President Bonita C. Jacobs said. "We continue to expand access to higher education and produce graduates who are globally competitive for a vast array of careers and service opportunities. At the same time, we continue to create jobs for thousands who serve our students and the communities in northeast Georgia."

Included in UNG’s economic impact is $285 million in spending by about 20,000 students, which alone created 3,279 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 or 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 6,563 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 2019 had a statewide impact of $18.5 billion, an almost 4.5% increase from the previous year.

"USG and our 26 institutions play a critically important role in local economies all across Georgia," USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. "At the same time, a college degree has never been more essential to success in the workforce and for our state's economic future. As Georgia's public college and university system, USG remains committed to improving on the state's investment in higher education and carrying out our ultimate mission to prepare students for life and work with a college degree."

The annual study is conducted on behalf of the USG Board of Regents by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. The study reports expenditures and impacts for the 2019 fiscal year – July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

This year, Humphreys and Alexandra Hill of the Selig Center also conducted a companion study titled "Lifetime Earnings for University System of Georgia Class of 2019." The Center's research shows work-life earnings increase substantially with each step up in postsecondary educational attainment, a finding that holds true for both Georgia and the nation as a whole.

Graduates of the USG in 2019, who will work in Georgia, can expect lifetime earnings of $170 billion, of which $59 billion (35 percent) can be attributed directly to their degrees. On average, that amounts to an additional $888,563 in work-life earnings per graduate.

More specifically, higher education credentials increase the work-life earnings of the median Georgia resident by $183,475 (certificate), $415,570 (associate), and $1,211,615 (bachelor's degree). Beyond a bachelor's degree, a master's degree is worth $211,305 and a professional degree is worth $1,017,155. Finally, a Ph.D. increases work-life earnings by $643,385 over a master's degree.

The full economic impact and lifetime earnings reports are available on the USG website.

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