The University of Washington, its medical complex and branch campuses generate $12.5 billion in jobs, sales of goods and services, and other economic impacts for the state, according to a new study of the university’s economic contribution to the local economy.
In fact, the UW’s state economic impact is larger than that of any of the other 200-plus colleges and universities that the consulting firm Tripp Umbach has ever studied, said Paul Umbach, founder and president of the Pittsburgh-based company.
“It is one of the largest, if not the largest, research enterprises in the world,” Umbach said of the UW. Its impact is “also driven by a school that has an awful lot of innovation-economy spinoffs. And … it provides almost the majority of the professional workforce in the state.”
The study is being released Thursday, just four days before Washington lawmakers start a session in which they will set the state’s budget for the next two years.
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Like most state universities around the country, the UW saw its public funding sharply cut by lawmakers during the recession. UW lobbyists are likely to use the numbers in this economic report to show how important the university is as an economic driver for the region — and make the case that the university should get back some of the money that was slashed between 2009 and 2012.
Because of those cuts, state funding now makes up only 4 percent of the UW’s $6 billion budget.
The study measured the money the UW spends to hire people, buy goods and services and construct or maintain buildings. It also measures the indirect economic impact — also known as the multiplier effect — which occurs when the UW’s vendors, suppliers and employees spend the money they make in the local economy.
Of the $12.5 billion in economic impact, UW Medicine — which includes Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital, UW Medical Center and a network of clinics — accounts for $7.8 billion. And UW Medicine was directly or indirectly responsible for 45,330 of the more than 79,000 jobs generated by the university.
Among report findings:
• The UW is the third-largest nonfederal employer in the state (Boeing and Microsoft are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively), and 1 of every 48 jobs in the state is supported by the UW, either directly or indirectly.
• The UW pays $152.5 million directly, and $413 million indirectly, in state and local taxes. The largest source of this is the state sales tax.
• The UW is among the top three universities in the nation for university-aided technology startups.
• From 1974 to 2009, the UW received more federal-research funding than any other U.S. public university. It has been in the top two nationally each year since 2009, receiving $1.4 billion in 2014.
That amount translates to about 3.42 percent of all the federal research dollars awarded to U.S. universities in 2014.
“As competition for research dollars grows and the funding decreases, the UW is able to maintain a level of research-dollar attraction that is the aspiration of universities throughout the world,” the report says.
That federal-research money is one of the major reasons why the UW has such a large impact on the state, according to the report. For example, the research arm of the university not only employs researchers, but it also indirectly supports jobs created by supply and equipment vendors, contractors and laborers for the construction and renovation of laboratory facilities, and administrators and managers who support the research infrastructure, according to the report.
UW spokesman Norm Arkans said the UW paid $42,000 for the study. It was commissioned, he said, to demonstrate that “there is a substantial economic effect of our doing what we do … It’s an additional benefit of having a major public research university in the mix here and contributes to demonstrating the value we bring to the region.”
The study will be presented and discussed at a UW Board of Regents meeting at 12:45 p.m. Thursday in the Petersen Room of the Allen Library.