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Economy

Alabama’s community colleges add $6.6 billion to state economy

The Alabama Community College System directly impacts 98,923 jobs in the state, representing about 2.7 percent of Alabama’s gross state product.

Alabama Community College System logo.

Students and alumni of colleges within the Alabama Community College System add $6.6 billion to Alabama’s economy, supporting one out of every 27 jobs in the state, according to an economic impact report released Monday. 

The independent, 102-page report by Lightcast estimates the Alabama Community College System directly impacts 98,923 jobs in the state, representing about 2.7 percent of Alabama’s gross state product. Additionally, taxpayers see a net benefit of $1.1 billion in added tax revenue from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased output to businesses.  

“The results of the analysis demonstrate that the ACCS is a strong investment for all three major stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society,” according to the report. “…Students receive a great return for their investments in an education from the ACCS. At the same time, taxpayers’ investment in the ACCS returns more to government budgets than it costs and creates a wide range of social benefits throughout Alabama.” 

Alabama Community College System

Alabama’s community college alumni who are currently employed in Alabama’s workforce added $5.7 billon in income during the analysis year. A total of 95 percent of Alabama community college students live in the state. 

Seventy-one percent of associate degree recipients remained in Alabama, contributing to the state’s economy and opportunity for growth, according to a previous report by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

“Our legacy centers on helping people develop the skills they need to help build the framework of our state’s economy, and the data this report provides proves we are on a forward path of excellence in that pursuit,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. 

“Residents are receiving a strong return on investment when they invest in training at one of our colleges – whether through an adult education program, rapid skills training program, rigorous certification or academic transfer program that allows them to move toward completing a bachelor’s degree. And, they’re using that training to make a difference right here in Alabama.”  

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Among the report’s highlights: 

  • The impact of the Alabama Community College System, which celebrates 60 years as a system this year and represents 24 community and technical colleges across Alabama, supported 98,923 jobs in FY2021. For perspective, the activities of the colleges and their students support one out of every 27 jobs in Alabama. 
  • Taxpayers, who provided the Alabama Community College System with $869.8 million of funding in FY2020-21, will receive an added tax revenue benefit of $1.1 billion. Additionally, reduced demand for government-funded services in Alabama will add another $82.2 million in benefits to taxpayers. 
  • The ACCS generates $7.40 for every dollar invested in ACCS, for as long as the colleges’ FY2020-21 students remain active in the state workforce. 
  • The average Alabama community college graduate earns $7,900 more each year than a resident who does not obtain more than a high school diploma. 
  • The average annual return for Alabama community college students is 22.1 percent.
  • The colleges’ operations spending was $535.8 million in added income to the state economy. 
  • The colleges’ construction spending was $13.3 million in added income for Alabama. 
  • The jobs retained or created and additional investments by businesses supported by the Alabama Technology Network, an entity of the ACCS, created $206.5 million in added income. 
  • As a result of the $1.8 billion invested by Alabama to support the ACCS, the economy will grow by $12.8 billion over the course of students’ working lives. 

Lightcast, a global leader in labor market analytics for colleges and universities, analyzed data using FY2020-21 academic and financial reports from Alabama’s community and technical colleges, as well industry and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.  

The full report can be found at www.accs.edu/impact 

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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