California’s community colleges have long been a major economic engine that helps drive the state’s economy.

Now, for the first time, a new report quantifies the immense economic and social benefits of the state’s largest system of higher education.

Our colleges have an annual economic impact of $128.2 billion, equal to approximately 4.2% of California’s total gross state product, according to a EMSI Burning Glass report released this week.

Community colleges also are a major job generator and are among the state’s largest employers with 91,328 full-time and part-time faculty and staff. And our 116 colleges support nearly 1.5 million jobs – or one of every 16 jobs in the state – when combining the impact of payroll, operating expenses and construction costs with spending by students, faculty and staff.

For taxpayers, for every dollar directed at supporting community colleges, the study finds a 100% rate of return over time.

For students the news gets even better. For every $1 invested, students will gain $5 in higher future earnings. The average community college graduate with an associate degree will see an increase in earnings of $11,100 annually, when compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent.

The bottom line is that California’s community colleges support state businesses by increasing consumer spending; supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers to the workforce; enriching the lives of students by raising their lifetime earnings and helping them reach their potential; and benefiting state and local taxpayers through higher tax receipts and a reduced demand for social services.

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his 2022-2023 budget proposal, which provides significant resources and funds many of our priorities to better serve students and make our system even more impactful to the state’s economy.

I want to thank the governor and his team for their commitment to our students and for acting on the knowledge that investing in community colleges transforms lives and yields great dividends for our economy.