The annual statewide economic impact of the University of South Carolina system now totals $5.5 billion, supporting one in 35 jobs statewide and generating nearly $220 million in tax revenue for state coffers each year, according to a new study by the Darla Moore School of Business released Monday.
The study is an update of an economic analysis conducted in 2011 and demonstrates that more than ever, USC is returning tangible economic benefits to graduates, businesses and communities throughout South Carolina.
“The economic benefits of higher education are far reaching for both individual citizens and the state as a whole,” writes Moore School economist Joseph Von Nessen, the study’s author. “The lives of individual alumni are improved through earning higher wages and a lifetime of better job opportunities, while the community at large also benefits through economic spillover effects and a net increase in tax revenue for the state of South Carolina.”
Current enrollment in the USC system exceeds 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students, by far the largest higher education entity in South Carolina. That matters because yearly wages for colleges graduates are on average more than $18,000 higher than those with a high school degree, and the percentage of the population with a college degree “is the best predictor of a state’s national ranking in personal per capita income levels,” the study notes.
Among the study’s key findings:
- USC has an annual system wide impact of $5.5 billion, including goods and services associated with increases in alumni wages and business activity;
- a total of 60,250 jobs are supported by the system—that’s one in every 35 in South Carolina;
- tax revenue returned to the state totals $219.5 million annually;
- USC Athletics alone has a $225 million annual impact and also supports 2,787 jobs;
- the USC School of Medicine in Columbia, which is in partnership with the new Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, has a net impact of $81.4 million and supports 484 jobs;
- USC’s Office of Economic Engagement, launched in 2013, has an impact of more than $40 million, obtaining $21 million in grant funding and more than 130 patents since its founding;
- nearly $50 million is returned to local communities from visitors to USC campuses, including families of non-resident students.
While the largest economic impact is from USC-Columbia ($4.16 billion), USC’s eight-campus system delivers millions in economic benefits to the entire state: Upstate ($506 million), USC Aiken ($281 million), USC Beaufort ($84 million), USC Lancaster ($75 million), USC Salkehatchie ($47 million), USC Sumter ($40 million), USC Union ($26 million).
“This study once again demonstrates that higher education is unquestionably a worthy investment,” says USC President Harris Pastides. “Supporting higher education is not part of a zero sum game—it benefits not only those earning their degrees, but also increases prosperity for for the entire state and every citizen.”