Report shows that higher education is a leader for state economy

When you think of what drives Michigan’s economy, you think of the automobile industry. But according to a report, higher education is an industry that is becoming just as important.

The report was released by the Anderson Economic Group this week. It provides economic data for all of Michigan’s 15 public universities, including payroll and benefits, and student spending.

Michael Boulus is the Executive Director of the President’s Council, an organization representing the state’s public universities.

“Michigan’s 15 public universities are responsible for more than 120,000 jobs, and have spending and earnings accounting for almost 24 billion [dollars],” Boulus said. “That compares with the 150,000 jobs in the automobile manufacturing industry in Michigan.”

Boulus said he was surprised by some of the numbers, considering Michigan’s recent census counts.

“We [Michigan] rank sixth among the States in enrollment in public universities, despite being ninth in total state population,” he said. “I was very pleased that we were able to grow our enrollment over the last decade by 5% despite a shrinking state population and major cuts in state support.”

Boulus said he hopes the report will show government that higher education is a worthwhile investment, and that the state should not continue to cut funding.

In addition, he said the rate of degree completion among the 15 universities has increased by 15%.

The report positions Central Michigan University as a key contributor to jobs and the state’s economic prosperity.

The report also shows that CMU contributed more than $940 million in regional and statewide economic activity last year.