Higher education is driving the Philadelphia region

The Greater Philadelphia region has long been known for its strengths in many sectors, including the manufacturing, life sciences and technology fields. These industries drive growth and prosperity that reach far beyond the 11-county region.

The force behind what drives such a strong economy is the talent being produced by the high concentration of colleges and universities in Greater Philadelphia. There are 103 colleges in the region that play an integral part in producing a thriving economy. According to the Brookings Institute, those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree generate $278,000 more into the local economy than high school graduates.

Out of Greater Philadelphia’s 3 million workers, 34.7 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a percentage that is higher than those in New York City, Houston or Los Angeles. There are also more professional degrees awarded per resident in Greater Philadelphia than in any other region in the nation.

These Philadelphia-area universities contain more than half a million students, the fourth-largest university population among all U.S. metropolitan areas. These include top-ranked schools, including four of the 20 best universities in the country: Haverford College, Princeton University, Swarthmore University and the University of Pennsylvania.

More than the talent that they are producing is the economic impact that the schools have themselves made on the local and statewide economy. In 2012, Drexel University generated $1.5 billion within Philadelphia and $2.4 billion within the state of Pennsylvania. Schools like the University of Delaware and Rowan University are also driving hundreds of millions of dollars regionally and statewide.

People from around the world are earning 90,000 degrees annually in Greater Philadelphia, from research, engineering, business, entrepreneurial, liberal arts and technology programs that set the standard of excellence in higher education. And after they graduate, they want to remain here; according to Campus Philly, 64 percent of these students choose to stay to establish and grow their careers and lives, a large reason why Philadelphia has the fastest-growing millennial population among the nation’s 30 largest cities.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Education & Talent Action Team is helping to maintain and build upon the talented workforce in the region by engaging in programming and initiatives that are designed to prepare talent to compete in the global economy through partnerships with educators, employers and nonprofit organizations.

If you want to learn more about education and talent in Greater Philadelphia, contact me at rwonderling@chamberphl.com.

Rob Wonderling is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

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