STUDY: UNM Delivering BIG Economic Impact in NM ($5.2B) – Despite Pandemic Challenges

A report released last week, titled “The Statewide Economic Impact of the University of New Mexico,” quantifies UNM’s economic contributions in 2020 to the state through its operational expenditures, student and alumni spending, and programs that foster innovation and economic growth.

The report shows that, through university operations, student expenditures, alumni human capital, and technology transfer, UNM contributed 40,153 jobs, $2.1 billion in annual labor income, and $5.2 billion in economic output to our state last year.

And, with five campuses from Taos to Gallup to Valencia County to Los Alamos, and back to Albuquerque – and over 111,000 alumni across New Mexico – its impact is truly statewide.

UNM directly employs just under 20,000 faculty and staff, adding up to $1.5 billion in payroll alone. But, as the study explains, the university’s impact goes well beyond its status as one of our state’s major employers.

Here are just a few highlights of UNM’s titanic impact:

  • Over 50% of UNM’s purchases are made from New Mexico vendors
  • UNM’s faculty, staff, and students obtained over $308.5 million in contract and grant funding in 2020
  • UNM made over $3 billion in operational expenditures in 2020, $1.6 billion of which came from out-of-state sources like non-resident student tuition, federal grants, and federal payors for clinical services from UNM Hospitals and UNM’s other healthcare entities
  • These operational expenditures supported 26,309 jobs providing $1.5 billion in income to New Mexico workers and small business owners
  • In 2020, New Mexico-based start-ups affiliated with UNM Rainforest Innovations employed roughly 260 New Mexicans, paid an estimated $20.6 million in wages and salaries, and generated $33.4 million in total output
  • These new firms in turn resulted in another 457 jobs, $29.4 million in labor income, and $55.4 million in economic output

The report also considers the impact of higher education on career earnings, and even how UNM graduates who remain New Mexico residents spend. Among the most striking data points: UNM alumni residing in New Mexico earn roughly $2.5 billion more than they would with just a high school diploma. Of course, the key is encouraging our graduates to stay to build their lives and careers in New Mexico: “Reversing the ‘brain drain’ is critical to growing the state economy,” the study states.

Last, the study looks at UNM Rainforest Innovations and its work in helping entrepreneurs protect and commercialize their inventions and boost high-tech industries. UNM Rainforest Innovations currently has 73 active startup companies, 42 (58%) of which are located in New Mexico, an 82% increase since 2014. UNM Rainforest Innovations also manages a number of other projects and partnerships that foster economic growth and innovation.

“UNM is one the state’s most valuable assets,” UNM President Garnett S. Stokes said in an announcement about the study’s release. “New Mexico’s flagship university provides $5.2 billion in economic output, stimulating economic progress and prosperity for all New Mexicans. We truly are the University for New Mexico. And we’re very proud to be your flagship university.”

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber is proud to call UNM a member and partner.

“The University of New Mexico is an outstanding partner to the business community – and to the broader state community as well,” said Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole. “We’re proud to work alongside UNM’s leaders to make our state and our economy stronger, and we’re so excited to celebrate this assessment of the tremendous value our flagship university brings,” she added.

To read the full report, click here.

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