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Study Highlights Economic, Social Benefits of California’s Community Colleges

January 28, 2022

Screenshot of video titled "California Community Colleges Economic Impact Report"For every dollar society invests in California’s community colleges, an average of $11.70 in benefits will accrue to California over the course of the students’ careers.

This is just one of the findings of an economic impact report released this week by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Called “The Economic Value of the California Community Colleges System,” the study highlights the positive economic impact created by the community colleges on the business community and the benefits the colleges generate in return for the investments made by students, taxpayers and society as a whole.

“This study validates the clear fact that California’s community colleges are an investment playing a critical role in driving the state’s economy and making a difference in millions of lives daily,” said CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

The Chancellor’s Office is promoting the study’s findings as part of a campaign to boost enrollment, which has declined statewide, from 2.1 million to 1.8 million, during the pandemic.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • The California Community Colleges, which includes 73 districts and 116 colleges, is among the state’s largest employers with 91,328 full-time and part-time faculty and staff.

  • California’s community colleges added $128.2 billion in income to the state economy, or approximately 4.2% of the state’s total gross state product (GSP).

  • California's community colleges helped create nearly 1.5 million jobs, or one out of every 16 jobs, in the state when combining the impact of payroll, operating expenses and construction costs with spending by students, faculty and staff.

  • For every $1 students invest in community college (in the form of out-of-pocket expenses and forgone time and money) they will gain $5 in future earnings.

  • Taxpayers generate a net benefit of $2 in added tax revenue for every $1 they invest in community colleges.

  • Graduates earning an associate degree will, on average, increase their income by $11,100 annually compared to individuals with only a high school diploma.

  • Community colleges create an estimated $265.9 billion in social benefits for California.

The 101-page study produced by Emsi Burning Glass draws on data from 2018-19. Download the full report here.