November 1, 2022

University of Colorado powers $13.3 billion in economic impact

CU system a key driver of the state’s economy in 2021-22, new study reports

DENVER – As the University of Colorado carries out its mission of providing outstanding teaching, research, community engagement and health care, it also generates a vital $13.3 billion annual economic impact across the state.

Some $8.7 billion of that amount tallied in the 2021-22 fiscal year is attributed to CU’s four campuses: CU Boulder, CU Colorado Springs, CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. CU’s hospital affiliates at CU Anschutz – including UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado – account for another $4.6 billion in economic impact.

“CU is a significant economic driver that advances Colorado’s economy, health and quality of life,” said CU President Todd Saliman. “Serving our state is critical to our mission and this study demonstrates some of the many ways we do so.”

The figures come from a new study compiled by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder, providing a snapshot of the university’s economic contribution to the state.

The study details how CU is an economic driver in Colorado, employing thousands of workers, buying from local vendors, importing investment, educating the local workforce and exporting research discoveries. Besides the university’s direct impact, CU facilitates company growth and job creation through research, technology transfer and spinoff companies.

Economic impact figures include employee earnings, student worker earnings, operating expenditures, construction, research and visitor spending. Other impacts are derived from innovation, tech transfer, skills and training, and alumni in the workforce.

The CU system last year directly employed a total of 47,513 faculty, staff and student workers, accounting for $2.4 billion in salaries. CU operated on $4.7 billion in revenue, with a significant portion tied to sponsored programs and other restricted fund activity. CU is Colorado’s third-largest employer.

Within the university and beyond, CU supported 89,900 jobs – mostly in the Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs areas – generating labor income of $6.3 billion.

In carrying out its core education mission, CU this fall enrolled 66,363 students at the four campuses. Last year, the institution awarded 18,096 degrees.

A survey of students found their spending totaled $994 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year. Spending estimates are based on students who indicated they would not be in Colorado if they were not enrolled at CU. Visitor spending in Colorado related to the campuses was an estimated $46.7 million.

Some 305,000 CU alumni live in Colorado, strengthening the state’s economic and social fabric. These alumni are an integral part of the labor force, particularly in the high-tech workforce, and bolster the state’s rank as second in the nation for educational attainment.

A research powerhouse, CU collaborates in a research triangle that includes universities, businesses and federal laboratories. CU’s research expenditure activities alone had a $2.9 billion impact last year.