0208economicimpact

While many people believe Penn is constrained to the area between the Schuylkill River and 40th Street, a report released last week showed that the University’s power stretches throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The report, which was conducted by economic consulting firm Econsult, found that Penn contributed $14 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy in 2010. This number includes wages paid to staff and faculty, government taxes and the money that students spend in the region. The majority of this amount — $9.5 billion — stayed within Philadelphia.

Penn employs more than 31,000 people, whose pay totals $2.3 billion per year. Currently, the University is the largest private employer in the city and second largest in the state, after Walmart.

The economic report showed that much of Penn’s impact is generated by students from outside the area, academic guests and those visiting the University Health System.

Over 30 million people travel in and out of the city annually, many of whom are associated with Penn, Victoria Lupica, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia International Airport, said.

This year, following the economic downturn, the University is making even more progress. Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said that Penn is looking to hire more employees, an early indication of “modest growth” as the economy rebounds.

Stephen Mullin, a senior vice president of Econsult and a lecturer at the Fels Institute of Government, said he “most definitely” expects more money to flow both in and out of the University in the coming years.

In spite of the current governmental budget constraints, Carnaroli said there is “always the hope” that a report such as this one will influence legislators when allocating funding and creating policies that would benefit Penn. Carnaroli also hopes that legislators will see higher education as “a growing sector,” especially in terms of job creation.

Penn, along with Columbia and Yale universities, is one of the “big players” among schools that have a large economic impact on their surrounding areas, according to Mullin.

Temple and Drexel universities ranked behind Penn in terms of financial contributions to the surrounding area, he added.

Large research universities like Penn “clearly have very significant impacts on their host cities,” Urban Studies professor Peter Angelides, a vice president of Econsult, wrote in an e-mail. “Most of Penn’s students come from outside the region, so their education is effectively a Philadelphia export.”

While the data presented in the report explains Penn’s economic power, Angelides wrote that the “full extent of [the University’s] impact is hard to capture with numbers alone.” He added that Penn’s reputation makes people in and out of Philadelphia “feel better” about the region and persuades people to move to the city or stay after they graduate.

Career Services recently reported that 18 percent of all new Penn hires in the last three years were alumni. Additionally, Campus Philly — a non-profit organization that works to connect students in the region — released a study in December which stated in 2010, 48 percent of non-native Philadelphians stay in the region after graduation.

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