The Evergreen State College Generates Big Return for County, State and Students

According to a January 2013 economic impact study (PDF) completed by ECONorthwest, “…spending that is directly attributed to Evergreen starts a chain reaction of additional economic activity that supports sales, incomes, and jobs in every sector of the Thurston County economy and beyond the county as well.”

The study documented short-run impacts based on college, student, and visitor spending and long-run impacts associated with the educational achievements of Evergreen students and alumni.

Study Highlights

Return on Investment for the State and Community

  • Evergreen generated $161.3 million in total economic activity in Thurston County in fiscal year 2012, including $83.1 million in income and 1,590 jobs.
  • The college generated $4 in net economic activity for every state dollar invested. That jumps to $20.63 if the increased annual earnings of alumni living in Washington are taken into account (compared to what they would have made without their college degree).
  • Student off-campus spending alone generated $40.1 million in economic impact in Thurston County in 2012, including $12.1 million in income and 389 jobs.
  • If Evergreen was a private employer, it would rank as the fourth largest in the county.
  • Evergreen has a strong "Buy Local" track record: 59% of all operational spending benefits employees and business owners in Thurston County and 83% benefits employees and business owners in Washington. 
  • The college generated $102.1 million in net economic activity in Washington that would not have occurred in the state if not for the presence of Evergreen.
  • Evergreen alumni living in Washington earn approximately $433 million more each year than if they had not attended college and pay an additional $47 million annually in state and local taxes based on that increased income.
  • Every million dollars in direct spending by Evergreen generates another $1.3 million in spending elsewhere in the economy.
  • Every million dollars in direct income paid by Evergreen is linked to another $500,000 in income in other sectors of the local economy.
  • Every 10 direct jobs at the college are linked, on average, to another 12 local jobs.
  • Evergreen alumni account for 15% of all bachelor's degrees in Thurston County and 22,000 across the state.

Return on Investment for Students and Alumni

  • Fastest time to degree among Washington's public baccalaureate (four-year) institutions (3.98 years).
  • Second highest four-year graduation rate among Washington's public baccalaureate institutions.
  • 52 percent of 2011 graduates finished with no loan history at Evergreen and those with debt were well below state and national averages.
  • Evergreen alumni have earnings comparable to other college graduates in the same fields and careers (fields in which Evergreen graduates are represented at higher than average levels: Science - Life, Physical and Social; Education, Training, Library; Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media; Computer and Mathematical - for older graduates; Legal - for older graduates; Farming, Fishing, and Forestry).
  • Evergreen alumni make an average of $22,600 more in annual average lifetime earnings than if they had not attended college. That means it takes about four years of increased annual average lifetime earnings to pay back the entire cost of four years at Evergreen (at today's prices).

About Evergreen’s Students

  • Three-quarters of students are Washington residents.
  • 81 percent of 2011 graduates belonged to at least one traditionally under-served population (low income, students of color, first generation to attend college, veterans, students with a disability, older than average).
  • 50 percent hold down a job while going to school.

ECONorthwest has extensive experience in economic impact analysis, including assessment of the impacts of higher education. The firm, which has three offices in the Pacific Northwest, employs masters and PhD level economists and uses the widely accepted IMPLAN model to develop its economic impact assessments. ECONorthwest focused its study on Evergreen's 2012 fiscal year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012).

For more information, read the executive summary (PDF) or full ECONorthwest report (PDF), including a profile of the college and information about the successes of Evergreen's alumni.