Indiana University Northwest added $261 million to the Northwest Indiana economy, a recent university-sponsored survey shows.

The biggest impact was on alumni, the survey showed. IUN helped add an estimated $220.2 million in 2018-19 to graduate earnings, followed by $37.9 million via campus operations, $3.9 million in student spending, $1.9 million in construction and more than $114,000 in visitor spending like at commencement or sports games.

With a $30.5 million payroll, IUN directly employs 895 full-time and part-time people, whom 97% live and spend their salaries locally, according to the survey.

The campus had 7,799 students in 2018-19, counting 2,817 who were dual-credit high school students.

Those findings cement the value IUN can locally provide as an “anchor institution,” Chancellor Ken Iwama said.

“Part of my job here is really to stand on every mountaintop and to tell people this,” he said. It will use the findings as a baseline for future strategic plans, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is showing a K-shaped economic recovery that is disproportionately hitting low-paying, low-skills jobs.

With September’s hiring gain, the economy has now recovered slightly more than half the 22 million jobs wiped out by the coronavirus, which has killed more than 215,000 Americans and infected more than 7 million. With many businesses and customers plagued by fear and uncertainty, some economists say it could take as long as late 2023 for the job market to fully recover.

Many Gen Z college graduates have had a tough time entering the job market, like millennials graduating around the 2008 Great Recession. National unemployment rates for ages 20-24 was 12.5% in September, down from 25.7% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over a lifetime, that speaks to the importance of a college degree, Iwama said.

“Do I take a gap year? Do I hold off on my studies? Every year you are holding off, you’re losing out on your investment in yourself,” he said.

A bachelor’s degree added an estimated $20,000 boost yearly, compared to average high school graduates, the IUN report said. Each dollar a student pays for higher education yields an estimated $3.90 in future earnings. Each tax dollar spent paid out gained an estimated $1.30 in future taxes, it said.

“It’s just a phenomenal investment,” said IUN economics professor Micah Pollak who helped provide data. “Why wouldn’t you put money in if you are getting this kind of return?”

Overall, Indiana University estimated it added $9.9 billion to the state’s economy in fiscal year 2018-19 via successful students, research, innovation, economic development and resident health.

During that period, IU graduates “generated $7 billion in added income... equivalent to supporting 92,655 jobs,” according to a release.

Seven out of 10 IU graduates are Indiana residents, said David Gard, IU’s Assistant Vice President for Economic Engagement. Many regional campus graduates tend to stay in that area to work, which keeps their wages plugged into the local economy, he said.

The survey was a joint project between Indiana University and Emsi, an Idaho-based labor market analytics firm.

The Associated Press contributed.
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