Local News

Study: Higher ed boosts Wake economy

Posted September 15, 2008 2:03 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2008 3:25 p.m. EDT

— The five colleges and universities in Raleigh account for a quarter of all wage and salary income and a fifth of total employment in Wake County, according to a study released Monday.

Meredith College, North Carolina State University, Peace College, St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University contributed an estimated $5.5 billion to the Wake County economy last year, the study reported.

The study looked at the combined effects of what the institutions spent for faculty and staff salaries and for campus operations and construction, as well as spending by students, alumni living in the area and attendees at athletic and cultural events.

“We have a unique combination of colleges and universities in Wake County with an economic impact that goes beyond that of faculty and student spending,” Laura Bingham, president of Peace College and president of the board of directors of Cooperating Raleigh Colleges, the group that represents the five schools, said in a statement.

The colleges and universities spent $941.1 million in 2007 on faculty and staff salaries. Another $182.1 million went toward operational expenses, from food service and maintenance to office supplies and equipment. Campus construction accounted for another $50.6 million, and athletic and cultural events for $26.6 million.

Many students also work while in school. An estimated 7,457 students held off-campus jobs during the year, the study reported.

Bingham said Raleigh is the only community in the country with the combination of a large, state research university, two historically black colleges and universities and two women’s colleges. That combination of institutions has had long-lasting impact – both economic and cultural – on the Wake County area, she said.

“Perhaps the impact that is most often underestimated is the effect of the thousands of graduates of these institutions who come here for college and remain in the area as highly educated and contributing citizens,” Bingham said.

The study estimated that alumni spending accounted for about $4 billion per year of the total economic impact. An estimated 61,441 alumni of the five campuses held jobs in Wake County in 2007.