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Study: NU has $4.5 billion impact on state's economy

Study: NU has $4.5 billion impact on state's economy


The University of Nebraska's economic impact has grown since 2015 from $3.9 billion to $4.5 billion last year, according to a recent study commissioned by the university.

Tripp Umbach, the Pittsburgh-based firm that conducted both economic impact studies, also found NU pumped an estimated $1.2 billion into the economies of Lincoln and the surrounding areas last year.

The study combined and analyzed capital and operational spending by NU, jobs, payroll, benefits and taxes, as well as the indirect spending created from the direct spending of the university.

It also uses a multiplier effect to measure the secondary impacts of NU's spending.

For this study, Tripp Umbach used a multiplier effect between 1.8 and 2.0, meaning that for every 10 people employed by NU, there are at least eight people working in other industries that support the university, adding its figures represented a conservative analysis.

NU supports 38,664 jobs — one in 26 jobs across the state — and contributes $154 million total in state and local taxes through its four campuses, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture and the system administration.

The system's partnering hospital, Nebraska Medicine, also has a $3.1 billion annual impact on the state's economy, supporting 26,742 jobs and contributing $106 million in taxes, according to the study.

And some 7,300 recent NU graduates — approximately 11,000 graduate each year — support an additional 20,520 jobs and pay $87 million in taxes annually, Tripp Umbach reported.

NU President Hank Bounds said the study "confirms that Nebraska cannot be successful without its public university."

"From producing the workforce of the future, to expanding opportunities for young people, to sustaining vibrant communities in every county, the University of Nebraska serves as a change agent for Nebraska and its people," Bounds said in a statement.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is the largest economic driver of the NU system, with a presence in all 93 counties, supporting nearly 18,500 jobs across the state with a total economic impact of $2.2 billion.

But its impact to the economies of Lincoln and Lancaster County is "an essential component," according to Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.

For its 2018 analysis, Tripp Umbach broke down NU's estimated economic impact for each of Nebraska's 49 legislative districts, detailing the economic activity, number of employees supported, as well as the tax impact.

Within the eight districts that touch Lincoln, NU contributes $1.2 billion in economic activity, supports roughly 10,300 jobs, and contributes $44.1 million in state and local taxes.

Three of the four legislative districts where NU has the largest economic impact are in Lincoln, represented by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (District 28, $243 million), Sen. Anna Wishart (District 27, $225 million) and Sen. Kate Bolz (District 29, $211 million). The economic impact in Omaha's District 9, represented by Sen. Sara Howard, is $220.5 million, according to the report.

The total economic impact for seven counties in the Omaha metro area, the study found, is $2.2 billion.

NU said it also plays a lead role in growing areas outside Lincoln and Omaha, like in central and western Nebraska, where the university contributed an estimated $616.5 million to the economy last year.

"It's hard to imagine a family, business, profession or community in Nebraska that is not positively affected by the University of Nebraska, and this data begins to quantify the scope of that impact," University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen said.

The economic analysis also measures NU's impact when taken in concert with the economic impact of Nebraska Medicine ($3.1 billion) and the total economic impact of recent graduates ($2.4 billion).

The result is a total impact of $10 billion, 85,000 jobs, and $347 million in government revenue, Tripp Umbach said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.


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