Study finds UC provides $82B in economic output for CA

Infographic depicting the University of California's contributions to California's economic output
Nada Lamie/Staff

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According to a study commissioned by the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, the UC system contributes $82 billion annually to California’s economic output and other social and economic measures.

In addition to total economic output, the study found that the university provides one out of every 45 jobs in the state, and for every dollar invested in the university, the state earns $21 in economic output and $10 in labor income.

“This study quantifies what we in the UC community have known for over 100 years — that the UC is the crown jewel of California,” said Aidan Arasasingham, UC Student Association president, in an email. “The success of California is directly tied to the success of UC and its students. This study highlights this correlation.”

The study was commissioned by UCOP and conducted by Beacon Economics, a  research and consulting firm hired by the university. According to UC spokesperson Karen Altridge, UCOP wanted to better understand the economic impact of the UC system.

The study does not measure the UC system’s impact over time, but instead looks at the university’s impact from 2018-19, Altridge said in an email.

In addition to its economic impacts, the study also measured the UC system’s impact on social equity, health care and research and innovation.

“UC is a world leader in innovation, averaging five inventions every day,” Altridge said in her email. “In fiscal year 2019, UC received over 500 patents and attracted nearly $6 billion in federal, state and private research awards.”

According to a press release published by UCOP, about 40% of university undergraduates are first-generation college students. Of those students, most earn more than their parents within five years of graduating. The same trend can be seen for low-income students, the press release stated.

The economic impact of the UC system, Altridge said, was clearest in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego-Imperial regions. When adjusted for the size of the region, the parts of California most impacted by the university include the Sacramento-Tahoe, Monterey Bay and Central Coast regions.

The campus with the largest economic output is UCLA, which contributes roughly $8 billion to the state, according to the study. UC Berkeley is the third-largest campus in terms of economic impact — behind UCLA and UC San Diego — providing more than $6 billion in its output.

“The University’s total economic impact on labor income in the state is over $37 billion annually,” Altridge said in her email. “Further, UC-related spending generates nearly $12 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.”

Contact Robson Swift at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.