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Report: Community colleges add $6.6 billion to Alabama economy

Students and alumni of colleges within the Alabama Community College System add $6.6 billion to Alabama’s economy in fiscal year 2020-2021, supporting one out of every 27 jobs in the state, according to an economic impact report released this week.

The report estimates the ACCS directly impacts 98,923 jobs in the state, representing about 2.7% of Alabama’s gross state product. Additionally, taxpayers see a net benefit of $1.1 billion in added tax revenue from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased output to businesses.

“The results of the analysis demonstrate that the ACCS is a strong investment for all three major stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society,” according to the report.

Alabama’s community college alumni employed in Alabama’s workforce added $5.7 billion in income during the 2020-2021 analysis year. A total of 95% of Alabama community college students live in the state.

The Alabama Community College System, which represents 24 community and technical colleges, serves more than 144,000 Alabamians through various certifications, credentials, dual enrollment and degree programs. ACCS will celebrate 60 years as a system later this year.

“Our legacy centers on helping people develop the skills they need to help build the framework of our state’s economy, and the data this report provides proves we are on a forward path of excellence in that pursuit,” Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, said in a written statement.

According to a previous report by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, 71% percent of associate degree recipients remained in Alabama, contributing to the state’s economy.

“Residents are receiving a strong return on investment when they invest in training at one of our colleges – whether through an adult education program, rapid skills training program, rigorous certification or academic transfer program that allows them to move toward completing a bachelor’s degree. And, they’re using that training to make a difference right here in Alabama,” Baker said.

The report comes just weeks before the Alabama Legislature gathers for the 2023 Regular Session, of which spending decisions on education and workforce development will be a key part.


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