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Report: HBCUs Have Significant Economic Impact In Their Respective Regions

If the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities represented one business, it would be ranked 232nd on the Forbes Fortune 500 list of the country’s largest companies. HBCUs had a combined economic impact of  $10.2 billion in 2001, according to a report released Friday from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The economic impact of HBCUs is particularly revealing considering that many are located in the South in or near low-income neighborhoods, where economic development is needed. HBCUs spent $6.6 billion in their host communities in 2001, with public institutions contributing 62 percent of the total. The circulation, or respending, of those investments generated another $3.6 billion for those communities.

The study on the short-term economic impact of HBCUs is based on data from NCES and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It looks at the regional economic impact of the 101 Title IV historically Black colleges and universities in four areas: spending by the institutions on wages, spending for other budget categories, spending in the region by undergraduates of the institution and spending by the school’s graduate students.

Other findings include:

  • Wages from HBCUs created an economic impact of $4 billion.
  • HBCUs provided 180,142 full-time and part-time jobs in 2001, collectively exceeding the jobs at Bank of America in 2006, the nation’s 23rd largest private employer.
  • Some schools are their area’s major employers. Tuskegee University jobs accounted for 24 percent of total employment in the Tuskegee, Ala., regional economy. Fort Valley State University in Georgia accounts for 14 percent of regional jobs and Grambling State University in Louisiana accounts for 10 percent of jobs in its region.

Researchers at NCES suggested that a follow-up study should look at the long-term economic impact of these schools, including measuring the productivity and lifetime earnings of graduates.


While the study only examines the economic impact of HBCUs in 2001, it also provides a template for updating the information once new data is available.

— Diverse staff reports


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