The major benefits of the 23 California State University campuses are felt by communities throughout the state, and today a report was released showing just how much of an economic, technological, social and environmental impact the CSU makes statewide.

The report, Working for California: The Impact of the California State University System, is available here and underscores that the dynamic, knowledge-based economy that California enjoys can be directly tied to the investment in world-class public higher education.

“Access to college is the key to better jobs, higher wages and a brighter future,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “We know that students educated at our university not only improve their own condition but that of their families and the community around them.”

Particularly important during this time of economic crisis, the unemployment rate for individuals in California with only a high school diploma is twice that of four-year college graduates. The study also finds that the CSU supports more than 150,000 jobs statewide, annually. If the impact of higher earnings for CSU alumni is included, the number of jobs supported jumps to nearly half a million.

The engine driving job creation is more than $17 billion in economic activity that directly results from CSU-related spending that generates nearly $1 billion in state and local taxes annually and $5.43 for every dollar the state invests. That impact jumps to more than $70.4 billion annually if higher alumni earnings are counted, with CSU generating nearly $5 billion in state and local taxes annually, more than paying for the state’s General Fund support.

“A CSU education is clearly an investment that pays for itself year after year for both the individual and the state,” said Reed. “The CSU’s 2.5 million alumni are the educators, engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs of today. Current CSU students are the educated workforce and leaders of tomorrow.”

In addition to supporting job creation and reducing unemployment, CSU conferred almost 71,000 bachelor’s degrees, nearly half of all the bachelor’s degrees awarded by all public and private universities in the state.

“CSU serves the needs of California’s workforce, and the economic drivers, which account for nearly five million jobs in the state, are knowledge-based industries that thrive because of the state’s skilled workforce,” said Elizabeth Johnston, Senior Associate at ICF International who conducted the study. “Among these key industries are agriculture, business, life sciences, engineering, information technology, media, and hospitality and tourism and others that rely on the CSU for their workforce.”

For example, CSU graduates 60 percent of nurses statewide, a key industry in demand of the growing workforce. Sixty-four percent of hospitality and tourism graduates statewide are from the CSU, with 62 percent of agriculture and 54 percent of business.

CSU also remains California’s largest source of educators. More than half the state’s newly credentialed teachers are CSU graduates.

CSU students and alumni reflect the rich diversity of the state, and nearly half of all bachelor’s degrees earned by African-Americans in California are conferred by the CSU. In 2006-07, 56 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to Latinos in California were CSU degrees.

CSU is also a leader in sustainability, and the state’s green sector grew by 45 percent over the past 15 years, indicating its increasing importance in the economy. Currently, 23 percent of the CSU’s electric power is from renewable sources, and the CSU has partnered with the Department of General Services to lead a statewide effort to install solar-powered generation systems on university campuses and state facilities. In April 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized CSU in the Top 20 list of the greatest national green power purchasers. The CSU also has 33 LEED™ certified /to be certified projects across 16 campuses. Students also take an active role in on-campus and community-wide sustainability measures, and CSU has increased course offerings in sustainability and green business certificate programs.

The CSU also engages in applied research in key California industries including agriculture, biotechnology, information technology and others, and partners with local economic, community and business development offices and private industry around such ventures as biotechnology and alternative fuels development.

As the nation’s largest and most diverse university system, the CSU continues to serve the mission of accessible, quality higher education, while keeping an eye towards creating an environmentally and economically sustainable future for California.