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Report: Spending on Higher-Ed Jobs Better than Construction


Tuesday, June 23, 2020   

AMHERST, Mass. -- An analysis from University of Massachusetts-Amherst professors shows state spending on public higher education is a better economic stimulus than other sectors, such as construction.

The report authors argue this could help Massachusetts recover financially from the COVID-19 crisis. Report co-author economics Professor Michael Ash explained, for example, why investing in public higher education creates more jobs than casinos.

"Casinos don't put that many people to work. You only put about just under or over seven people to work for $1 million spent on casinos," Ash said. "A reasonable estimate from higher education is not fewer than 12 people per million dollars, and there are some ways that would put more like 17 to work for every million dollars of spending."

The report recommends funding come from federal stimulus dollars or taxing wealthy Commonwealth residents. This includes supporting state legislation such as the CHERISH Act, which aims to increase public higher-ed spending by $120 million annually.

Max Page is vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers' Association, which supported the report. While the CHERISH Act has failed to pass in past legislatures, Page said he thinks COVID-19 will bring fresh urgency.

"We need to invest in public higher education for this new reason, which is to help us jump-start our economy out of this huge recession," Page said.

The authors estimate $120 million would generate about 3,300 jobs. The report, entitled, "An Economic Analysis of Investment in Public Higher Education in Massachusetts," is online at

Disclosure: Massachusetts Teachers Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Civic Engagement, Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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