LANSING (WWJ) – Michigan’s 15 public universities are responsible for more than 120,000 Michigan jobs and $23.9 billion in total economic activity, according to an economic study commissioned by the Presidents Council of the State Universities of Michigan.

Together, the universities support more than $12 billion in earnings in Michigan in 2012, according to the report.

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Also, the report shows that the 1.3 million alumni of Michigan’s public universities living in the state earned $47 billion in income in 2012.

The study also shows Michigan fights above its weight class in terms of public university enrollment — it’s sixth in the nation in enrollment, with more than 300,000 students, but only ninth in the nation in population.

The study also shows enrollment grew 5 percent 2003 to 2012, despite a shrinking state population and major cuts in state support per student. Annual degree completions increased even faster, by 13 percent — 16 percent for bachelor degree completion.

The council’s chairman, Michigan Technological University president Glenn D. Mroz, said in a statement: “This report shows our universities are important contributors to jobs and prosperity in our state. Whether it’s the salaries earned by professors, our investment in new buildings needed to keep up with student demand, or the earnings of our graduates, it’s clear that public universities are vital to every one of Michigan’s 83 counties.”

Michael Boulus, executive director of the council, said the report – which has county-by-county detail of enrollment, spending and alumni residency – shows that Michigan universities drive local economies in many ways.

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“Whether it’s the investment of Wayne State in student housing spurring growth in Detroit’s Cass Corridor, alumni creating jobs in Marquette, research at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor encouraging entrepreneurial professors to create new companies or new classroom facilities in downtown Grand Rapids boosting that city’s attraction to young talent, Michigan’s investment in higher education pays off all over our state,” Boulus said. “We hope this report will remind lawmakers that investing in higher education is investing in the state’s economy.”

The report is available at

Of $4.5 billion in university non-payroll spending, $1.4 billion or 32 percent went toward construction in 2012, providing employment in that industry while ensuring adequate facilities for students and researchers. Other major categories for non-payroll spending were hospital services ($766 million), plant operations and maintenance ($546 million) and research ($407 million).

The 1.3 million alumni of Michigan public universities living in Michigan represent more than 61 percent of those with a four-year degree, and earned a total of $47 billion in salaries and wages in 2012.

Enrollment at the Michigan 15 public universities has increased from 287,864 in 2002-03 to 301,470 in 2011-12, a 5 percent increase. Degrees and certificates earned increased from 59,414 to 66,947 over that period, a 13 percent increase; the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded grew by more than 16 percent.

The report also showed the state’s universities are attracting young talent from around the United States and the world. Top states delivering students to Michigan were Illinois (5,775), Ohio (3,201), California (3,140), New York (2,799) and Wisconsin (1,827). Top nations were China, India, Saudi Arabia and Canada.

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Worldwide, Michigan public universities have 2.1 million living alumni, with 1.3 million living in Michigan, about 18 percent of the state’s population 22 and older. Top states for alumni other than Michigan were California (88,249), Illinois (71,891), Florida (62,594) and New York (41,757).