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Study finds that SUNY accounts for 9% of all jobs on Long Island

SUNY Chancellor John King joins Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis for a tour of the campus.
J.D. Allen
SUNY Chancellor John King joins Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis for a tour of the campus.

New York's state university system employs close to 180,000 workers throughout the state, of which over 60,000 jobs in Suffolk and Nassau county.

According to a study published by the Fiscal Policy Institute, this number is split between those the State University of New York employs directly and those employed in serving the campus, such as food vendors and book sellers. According to the study, 63,400 New Yorkers are employed at SUNY as faculty, staff, and administration, while 115,500 are employed by jobs that support SUNY institutions. On Long Island, 9% of all jobs were employed by SUNY schools either directly or indirectly.

“It's not just that we're creating jobs, we're creating jobs while also doing something that's creating economic opportunity — that's creating a highly educated workforce that the state's going to depend on for future generations,” said Andrew Perry, the senior policy analyst at the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Perry said SUNY institutions are important for economic mobility, allowing students from low- and moderate-income families to enroll in degrees, certificate programs and workforce training and earn higher incomes as adults.

He added that these jobs also tend to payer higher wages compared to the average salaries in their respective counties.

The average SUNY employee wage is $84,200, which is 22% higher than the overall average wage of $69,200 in the rest of New York.

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The study also shows these higher wages directly stimulate the states economy. According to a separate study from the Rockefeller Institute, every dollar invested into the SUNY school systems returns $8.17.

Perry said this can create a community centered around the colleges.

“All of these things that support a college that are necessary parts of the supply chain to support a college community, those are also indirect jobs," he said. "So when we estimate the number of indirect jobs, that's where we see, that's how we can really capture the footprint of these campuses for local economy.”

The percentage of people employed in jobs supported by SUNY is noticeably higher in rural New York counties. Rural counties that contain a SUNY school, such as Cortland County, boast employment rates as high as 23.8%. There is also an increased employment rate in counties surrounding one of the four research universities in the SUNY system in Buffalo, Binghamton, Albany and Stony Brook.

Bill Rodrigues is a graduate intern at WSHU.