UW News

January 8, 2015

Study: University of Washington generates $12.5 billion, nearly 80,000 jobs for the state

UW News

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Katherine B. Turner/U. of Washington

The University of Washington generates $12.5 billion a year in economic activity and supports 79,331 direct and indirect jobs in the state of Washington, according to a new economic impact report released Thursday by an independent research firm.

The UW employs 34,668 people and, following Boeing and Microsoft, is the third-largest nonfederal employer in the state, with more than half of those jobs related to UW Medicine.

“The University of Washington continues to be a major force in the Washington economy in terms of employment, innovation and economic development,” said Paul Umbach, senior principal at Tripp Umbach, who produced the report. “The true impact of the UW goes far beyond the $12.5 billion in annual economic impact, as the university is a magnet for research, innovation and human capital.”

Total economic impact measures the dollars generated in the state as a result of the UW’s presence, including its three campuses and UW Medicine. The new study updates a previous one conducted in 2009 that showed the UW had an economic impact of $9.1 billion.

Economic impact begins when the university spends money. The study takes into account the direct, indirect and induced impact of those dollars. Direct expenditures are dollars the UW puts into the economy through payroll and benefits, construction and other operations. Indirect expenditures are payments made by suppliers in support of the UW’s operations. Induced spending is done by the UW’s employees, students and visitors, and employees at the UW’s suppliers.

The UW’s direct annual impact is $5.7 billion, while indirect and induced impact add up to $6.8 billion, for a total of $12.5 billion. Also, despite a common misperception that public universities do not generate tax revenue, $565.7 million ($152.5 million direct) in state and local government revenues were attributable to the UW in the 2014 fiscal year – a significant return on the state’s investment of $253,896,000 in direct operating appropriations for that period.

“This new study reflects the dynamic and powerful role the UW plays in the economic well-being of the state of Washington and the Puget Sound region,” said UW President Michael K. Young. “In addition to being an educational institution focused on educating students, discovering new knowledge and innovating solutions to problems, we are a significant economic entity with profound impacts on jobs and spending. Everyone benefits from that.”

One out of every 48 jobs in the state is attributable to the UW, according to the report. Using a similar direct, indirect and induced model, the UW supports 79,331 jobs (34,668 direct and 44,663 indirect and induced) across virtually every sector of the state’s economy, including construction, business and professional services, restaurants and hotels, information technology, and security.

The UW has tripled its research funding over the past 20 years and received $1.385 billion in the 2014 fiscal year. The funding provides opportunities for thousands of students to receive hands-on experience on research projects. When this funding is put to use, it also has a significant economic impact in the state. The UW spent $1.27 billion on research in the 2014 fiscal year, and that money had a $2.4 billion impact.

Below are more notable findings from the report:

  • UW educates the workforce that Washington needs to successfully compete in the 21st century global economy. In 2013-14, the UW conferred more than 15,000 degrees. About 74 percent of graduates will stay in Washington and contribute to the state economy. The contributions of UW graduates are critically important to the economic vitality of the state, and its alumni number more than 454,000.
  • It is estimated that UW employees and students generate more than $425 million annually in charitable donations and volunteer services, including $149 million contributed by employees and students to local charitable organizations, and $276 million in charitable care provided by UW Medicine.
  • In the 2014 fiscal year, the total economic impact of UW Athletics operations and visitors was $225.9 million.
  • UW Bothell’s total economic impact was $231.6 million and employment impact was 1,697 jobs. Its operations generate $12.3 million ($2.7 million direct) per year in state and local tax revenue.
  • UW Tacoma’s total economic impact was $211.7 million and employment impact was 1,608 jobs. Its operations generate $11.6 million ($2.3 million direct) per year in state and local tax revenue.

The complete report can be found here.