Study: Penn State contributes $11.6 billion to PA economy

February 26, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State is an economic powerhouse, contributing more than $11.6 billion to the state’s economy and supporting, directly and indirectly, more than 105,000 jobs across Pennsylvania in FY 2017, according to a newly released study. The study also found that for every $1 in state appropriations received by Penn State, the University returns $1.24 in tax payments to the Commonwealth.

“By any measure, Penn State is a powerful economic engine for Pennsylvania, contributing billions of dollars each year to the economy in communities across the Commonwealth, educating more than 98,000 students annually, and creating many thousands of jobs,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “This study highlights the widespread nature of Penn State’s economic contributions. Our University, with 24 locations across the Commonwealth, an academic medical center and a growing health system, is an engine that drives the economy and improves lives in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.”

The study employed a best-practice model, endorsed by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of Universities (AAU), to measure Penn State’s annual contribution to Pennsylvania’s economy. The study focused on quantifying the direct and extended impact of the University’s spending on goods and services in Pennsylvania, employee pay and benefits, spending on renovations and new facilities, student spending, and operations expenditures for Penn State Health. It also found that Penn State’s 24 campus locations spread the University’s economic contributions into communities in all corners of Pennsylvania, in a way that is unmatched by any other university in the Commonwealth.

Other measures of Penn State’s contributions

The study provides an important view of Penn State’s contributions by certain measures. Barron also highlighted that there are many other ways in which Penn State generates economic activity and benefits Pennsylvania students, families and residents.

“This study represents a solid baseline for measuring Penn State’s economic contributions using established models. In addition, there are many other critical, positive impacts that Penn State has on the lives of Pennsylvanians that go beyond the measures used in such studies,” Barron said.

Examples of these secondary benefits to Pennsylvania are numerous.

Beyond the $11.6 billion in total economic contributions measured by the study, additional, secondary impacts not measured include business revenue and personal income generated by millions of visitors to sporting and cultural events, and other attractions annually, not just at University Park but at 24 campus locations statewide; donations of money and time by Penn State students, faculty, staff and alumni to important causes in Pennsylvania; and the many other ways Penn State through its teaching, research and service helps Pennsylvania and its citizens to compete and succeed on a global stage.

“More than 350,000 alumni live and work in Pennsylvania, providing businesses with a highly educated workforce and generating incomes, spending and tax revenue,” Barron said. “Invent Penn State is leading to new business startups, partnerships among researchers and entrepreneurs, student career success, and job creation at innovation hubs in 21 communities across the Commonwealth. Every day, Penn State Extension is helping our agriculture industry, individuals and communities to solve problems in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.”

“More broadly, we have made it a strategic priority as a university to tackle societal challenges, such as the opioid crisis we face here at home, and food and energy insecurity faced by people around the globe, that also will have a long-term impact on the lives and well-being of our fellow citizens in Pennsylvania and beyond.”

“The bottom line: Penn State, as Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university, makes an enormous and positive impact in the lives of Pennsylvanians.”

Impacting communities

In addition to overarching contributions, the study highlights the significant local influence of Penn State’s campuses on the state’s economy and citizenry. Outside of University Park and Penn State Health, the study found that Penn State operations and student spending at campus locations across the Commonwealth combined for more than $2 billion in total economic contributions, with most of those impacts coming in the county in which each campus is situated.

More than 95 percent of Pennsylvania residents live within 30 miles of a Penn State campus, and 75 percent live within 15 miles, putting a world-class Penn State degree within driving distance for most Pennsylvanians. The University’s 19 undergraduate Commonwealth Campuses alone play a critical role for Pennsylvanians statewide, serving more than 30,000 students and employing more than 8,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff members.

“Along with fulfilling our land-grant mission to provide an accessible and affordable education to Pennsylvania citizens, the campuses have a powerful economic impact throughout the Commonwealth, tie Penn State philanthropy and volunteerism to local communities, and support our strategic efforts and moral imperative to foster diversity and inclusion,” Barron said in recent remarks to the Penn State Board of Trustees. “Our campuses help Penn State to serve the families of Pennsylvania, enabling students to access a world-class education and to live at home, work and go to school in their own local communities.”

  • Penn State contributed $11.6 billion to the PA economy in FY 2017.

    According to a newly released study, Penn State contributed $11.6 billion to the Pennsylvania economy in FY 2017, and is responsible for creating (directly and indirectly) more than 105,000 jobs. With 24 campuses in communities across the Commonwealth, Penn State's effect on the economy also is felt broadly, the study found. 

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated March 21, 2019