Photo of physics researchThis 2018 UW System Economic Impact Study updates a 2002 economic impact study for the UW System done by NorthStar Economics of Madison, Wis. The 2002 study reported an economic impact of $9.5 billion on the Wisconsin economy. It also estimated that UW System economic activity supported or created 150,000 jobs and generated $408 million in local and state tax revenue.

Since that study, the UW System has grown in enrollment, research activity, economic development engagement, and educational programs and outreach. The breadth of UW System activity is striking. The UW System has a presence in every county in Wisconsin and its graduates live and work throughout the state.

A significant challenge to completing an economic impact study for the UW System is finding and recording all economic activity associated with the work of the UW System, including its campuses and many related groups and organizations throughout the state. This study reports on the economic activity of the UW System in the most conservative terms.

This study was completed by researching and compiling spending data from UW System activities for the 2016-17 fiscal year in the following major areas:

  • UW campuses
  • UW hospitals
  • UW startup companies
  • UW student spending
  • UW visitor spending
  • UW research park activities
  • UW affiliated organizations

Spending is the primary focus of economic impact studies because money spent in local and regional activities generates further economic activity, jobs, and tax revenues while cycling through local and regional economies.

In this study, the overall economic impact of the UW System ($24 billion), the jobs generated or supported (nearly 167,000), and the amount of taxes generated ($1.1 billion) are explained in detail.