RALEIGH (April 20, 2022) – A recent economic-impact study shows that not only are North Carolina’s community colleges important to education in our state – they’re important to our economy.
“Not only do we fuel the job engine – we literally fuel the state’s economy,” Thomas Stith, President of the NC Community College System, says in the accompanying video.
“We have over a $19 billion impact on the state’s economy, supporting over 300,000 jobs – and that’s rippling through our economy.”1
The study by Emsi Burning Glass found the biggest effect community colleges have is on their graduates’ income.
“When you look at the impact of our alumni – a little over $17 billion in earnings and contributions to the community. Then that’s going to the corner store and utilizing those earnings,” Stith says.
FOR THE INDIVIDUAL STUDENT, the results are tangible and significant.
The study found that on average, an NC community college graduate with an associate degree earns $30,900 a year, or $6,900 more than a high-school graduate.
It’s a sound investment. Community college students reap an annual rate of return of 22.3%, versus an average annual return on the S&P 500 of 10.6% over 30 years, the study says.
“Every dollar invested results in four times the return,” says Stith.
“So a dollar invested is 4.5 dollars, multiplied in our economy. It’s a significant impact, not only from an educational point of view. But this study clearly shows the economic impact of our community colleges.”2