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UT generates $1.7 billion in annual income and supports more than 35,000 jobs in Tennessee, according to a study released today by the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.

That’s up $100 million since the last report was produced in 2015 and up more than $785 million over the past 10 years.

Wayne Davis
Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis

“The flow of spending through the university, our students, and our visitors has a significant and positive ripple effect throughout the community and state,” said Interim Chancellor Wayne T. Davis. “But these numbers capture only a fraction of what UT contributes to the state. Our biggest impact is educating our citizens and preparing Tennessee’s future labor force.”

The study was conducted by Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center, and Lawrence Kessler, research assistant professor, who used detailed revenue and expenditure data from 2017 to determine how much income, how many jobs, and how much state and local tax revenue are generated as a result of UT-related spending in Tennessee.

The university employs more than 10,000 people, including faculty, staff, and students. In 2017, UT paid $575 million in salaries and benefits.

Bill Fox, director of UT's Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.
Bill Fox, director of UT’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research.

Each dollar spent by employees causes more than one dollar in economic activity, according to the principle of economics known as the multiplier effect. The report shows that UT spending supports 35,232 full-time jobs in Tennessee.

“When our employees spend their paychecks, they’re buying homes, groceries, and other goods that support local jobs and in turn create income for those business owners and workers,” said Davis.

Non-payroll spending such as construction, utilities, equipment, supplies, and maintenance repairs totals $636 million and accounts for 42 percent of in-state university spending. Campus projects worth more than $1 billion are currently undergoing design, planning, or construction.

Student and visitor spending—by those attending sporting events, special events, and conferences who also visit downtown Knoxville or engage in other off-campus activities—accounts for $288 million.

UT’s economic activity also generates more than $166 million in state and local tax revenue.

“It’s important to note that the study measures only the impact that the production of education at UT has on the state’s economy,” said Fox. “It does not account for the effect that education has on the future of our graduates or their participation in the state’s workforce and economy.”

UT has more than 245,000 alumni, including more than 141,000 who live and work in Tennessee.

The university is coming off a record year for enrollment, research, and giving.

The Boyd Center is housed in UT’s Haslam College of Business. The center conducts research on national and state economic trends for UT, state agencies, and public and private organizations.

Read the full report and an editorial by Chancellor Davis.

Media coverage: News Sentinel, August 27; WVLT, August 27; WATE, August 27; Daily Beacon, August 27; WBIR, August 28; The Daily Times, August 28


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