UW News

July 22, 2010

UW’s annual economic impact on Washington is $9.1 billion

A new study concludes that the total economic impact created within the state by the University of Washington is $9.1 billion annually.     

The UW also supports 69,803 jobs in the state. The UW is the Puget Sound region’s third largest employer; total direct and indirect employment attributable to the UW represents more than 6 percent of King County’s labor force.

Since 1999, direct employment at the UW has increased by 34.5 percent or about 7,600 new jobs, attributable almost entirely to growth in the UW’s research enterprise, which is primarily funded from federal sources. State and local government revenue attributable to the presence of the UW totaled $618.1 million. For every dollar in state funding, the UW returned $1.48 in tax revenue to the state.

These are among the conclusions of a study conducted by the consulting firm of Tripp Umbach , commissioned by the UW.

“The UW is a major force in the Washington economy in terms of employment, innovation, and economic development,” says Paul Umbach, senior principal with Tripp Umbach. “The true impact of the University of Washington goes far beyond the $9.1 billion in annual economic impact, as the University is a magnet for attracting fresh dollars and human capital from outside of the state.”

The study measured both the direct and indirect business volume generated by the UW. The direct impact occurs when the UW spends money in salaries, goods and services. These expenditures have their own secondary, or indirect, economic impacts.

“This comprehensive analysis demonstrates clearly that the University of Washington is a major contributor to the success of our state’s economy — from dollars and jobs to leadership and innovation,” says UW President Mark Emmert. “By educating smart people and generating great ideas, the UW will play a crucial role in helping Washington state recover and build a global economy in the post-Great Recession era.”

UW spending amounted to just over $4 billion in fiscal year 2008-09. The businesses and individuals who received direct expenditures and re-spent money within the state created $5.1 billion in economic activity, according to standard models used to measure economic impact. In this same year, the UW received $401.7 million in state appropriations. For every dollar the state invests in the University, $22.56 is added to the state’s economy.

The UW’s research effort is responsible for a major share of the University’s economic impact — a total of $3 billion and more than 22,000 jobs annually. “The University’s research operations make tangible and quantifiable economic contributions,” the report notes. “Along with creating jobs for research staff and support personnel, the UW scientists are contributing to new product development and technology commercialization…. As one of the most successful public research universities, both in total funding and in faculty talent, UW is a global leader in research and technological breakthroughs that transform the community.”

The UW is a leader in the commercialization of innovations that occur through UW research. The UW has a portfolio of more than 2,200 issued and pending patents. More than 250 companies have been started by UW students and faculty or with UW technology. In fiscal year 2008-09, the UW executed 220 commercialization agreements with private companies. Overall the UW has the largest number of commercial licenses among U.S. universities. It is also the most efficient university in this regard, executing the most commercialization agreements per research dollar.

On average, three-quarters of UW graduates live and work in Washington. People with bachelor’s degrees have an average income of $68,000, compared with $39,000 for high school graduates. The report estimates that UW alumni living in Washington earned $14.5 billion in 2007, compared to approximately $8.3 billion they would have earned with only high school diplomas. “The additional $6.2 billion in earnings represent not only personal material benefits to individuals but also higher tax payments to federal, state and local governments…” the report states.

In addition to the economic and job impacts, the UW is also a source of tremendous charitable care, providing over $395 million in community benefits. UW Medicine provided over $267 million in charitable care to Washington state residents.

The UW plays an important role in preparing the citizens of Washington, which is the most trade dependent state in the U.S., for the globalized economy of the 21st century. The UW is seventh in the nation in student participation in study abroad; approximately a quarter of UW undergraduates study outside of the U.S. at some point. In addition, for four years in a row, the UW has led the U.S. in total alumni volunteering for the Peace Corps.

The full report is available here.