A report commissioned by the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges was released on Tuesday, showing the multi-billion dollar economic impact the colleges have across the state.

The presidents of Mississippi’s 15 community colleges commissioned the study to demonstrate how the community college system makes significant contributions to the state’s economy, supporting communities across the state’s 82 counties.

The report was prepared by the National Strategic Planning and Research Center at Mississippi State University.

The three primary objectives of the study were to: examine who is served by the statewide network of community colleges, determine education and labor market-related outcomes of those served and estimate the overall economic impact of community colleges in the state of Mississippi.

Results of the study show that community colleges directly and indirectly generate an estimated $2.1 billion in wages and salaries each year. That results in $277 million in state and local tax revenue and $3.9 billion in state gross domestic product (GDP), which is the total value of goods produced and services provided in the state during one year.

“The impact report demonstrates the importance of Mississippi’s community college system as one of the largest employers in Mississippi,” Mississippi Community College Board executive director Dr. Andrea Mayfield said. “Not only does the system employ an army of qualified people which in itself raises tax revenues, the system serves as a robust producer of highly skilled financially independent taxpayers.”

Mayfield said she’s confident Mississippi’s decision-makers will use this report and others like it to “make good decisions regarding policy and the investment of state dollars.”

Each year, an average of 8,876 graduates find jobs in Mississippi and support an additional 6,421 indirect jobs. The economic activity created by those 15,297 total jobs generates an estimated $509 million in wages and salaries, resulting in an estimated $73 million in state and local tax revenue and $1.2 billion contributed to Mississippi’s annual GDP.

Each year, community colleges spend more than $600 million on operational expenditures and wages/salaries for more than 8,100 employees, usually placing them among the top five employers in their regions.

Those direct jobs support an additional 16,200 jobs in the state. Those 24,300 total jobs generate more than $980 million in income and $128 million in state and local tax revenue and contribute $1.9 billion to the state’s GDP.

Community colleges and their students invest more than $1 billion in their local economies every year. That investment leads to a jobs multiplier of 3.0, meaning one community college job creates an additional two jobs in the state, according to the report.

An average of 100,000 students are served through academic and degree programs each year at Mississippi’s community colleges and 96% of all students served by them are Mississippi residents.

The top five study programs are liberal arts and sciences, health professions (registered nurses, licensed nurse practitioners and other technicians), business, management and marketing, advanced manufacturing and mechanic and repair technology.

Three out of four students who graduate from a community college live and work in Mississippi after graduation. They earn average annual salaries of $27,542 within one year of graduating, $31,550 after three years and $35,824 after five years – double the earnings of the average non-college-bound high school graduate in Mississippi.

Another 100,000 students enroll in non-credit workforce programs each year and participate in more than 274,000 unique training events throughout the academic year.

Four out of five students who complete non-credit workforce training courses remain in Mississippi after training and see an average increase in earnings of more than $2,390 after completed training, raising their average annual salary to $42,922.

The report also demonstrates an increase in student success. Mississippi community college students transferring to public four-year universities are nearly 1.5 times more likely to graduate than students who enroll as first-time, full-time freshmen.

5,365 former community college students complete a four-year degree each year. That in turn creates an additional 3,870 jobs, generates an additional $334 million in wages and salaries, $47 million in state and local tax revenue and contributes $690 million to the state’s GDP, according to the report.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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