Students gather at computers in the JWCC Library

JWCC Remains a Critical Piece to Regional Economy and Source for Job Creation According to New Study

JWCC main campus building
September 30, 2021

JWCC Remains a Critical Piece to Regional Economy and Source for Job Creation According to New Study

Illinois Community College system accounts for $3.5 billion in economic output and more than 43,000 jobs throughout state.

John Wood Community College continues to help drive the area economy and train a skilled workforce for critical industries throughout Illinois, according to a new statewide report analyzing the value of the Illinois community college system.

Data provided by John Wood Community College to the Illinois Community College Board (including wages, salaries, and capital costs) identified $13.7 million in operating expenditures during fiscal year 2020. John Wood Community College paid over $8.4 million in wages and benefits to their 266 employees that lived in the region. These direct impacts rippled through the economy creating additional jobs, payrolls, and other economic activity. These impacts are summarized below in Figure 44. About 329 jobs in the district could be attributed to the college operations. These operations were associated with about $21.2 million in economic output (equivalent to total sales of a business or total spending of a government enterprise). Value-added, which is a measure similar to the Gross State Product, totaled over $12.9 million.

According to the report, beyond the effects of direct spending and employment, the JWCC also strengthens the regional economy by addressing employers’ workforce needs. John Wood has the mission to “enrich lives through learning by providing accessible educational opportunities and services at an exceptional value” and a vision to become “the community’s partner and leader in education, workforce training, and lifelong learning.” In a survey of the community colleges’ business engagement, in 2019, 118 employers were served by credit or noncredit programs at John Wood Community College. In 2020, including the recession, 128 employers were served by the Community College.

JWCC President Michael Elbe shared, “We appreciate the work of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and Northern Illinois University for this impactful study.  The data confirms the direct economic benefits to our students and the true added-value John Wood provides to our community.  The report reinforces the value of completing a 2-year AAS or certificate at JWCC, with students seeing a 27% annual return on their investment that totals $650,000 in additional lifetime earnings.  Furthermore, the College continues to make investments for workforce training in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation/logistics, health sciences and many other career technical programs.   We collaboratively and strategically create innovative and relevant academic and training programs with regional business leaders to support the workforce for today’s needs and tomorrow’s opportunities.”

Statewide, Illinois’ 48 community colleges boost local Illinois economies and are important sources of revenue and employment for the communities and regions they serve, according to the study issued by the Illinois Community College Board.

“It is clear that community colleges remain a solid return on investment for local communities and the students that use them.  Our system plays a vital role in meeting the needs of Illinois’ workforce by providing quality training and education and gives students a greater opportunity to earn higher wages in countless industries throughout the state,” said ICCB executive director, Dr. Brian Durham.

The report evaluates Illinois’ community college system on its ability to meet the needs of business and industry, equity, student outcomes, students’ return on investment, and the system’s overall economic impact to local economies and job growth.  The report also examines statewide trends including employment, population, race and ethnicity changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Community colleges remain a valuable resource for students of all walks of life.  We are committed to creating an equitable path to economic mobility no matter who you are or where you live through the Illinois community college system,” said Dr. Lazaro Lopez, ICCB Board Chair.

The study found that more than 84 percent of students who earn a Long-Term Certificate or associate degree in applied science programs are employed in solid paying career jobs within a year of graduation.

Investing in an Illinois community college Long-Term Certificate or Associate in Applied Science degree yields an average annual rate of return of nearly 27 percent, with an average wage increase of nearly 40 percent one year after graduation.

Annual earnings are even greater in specific areas of study. For students graduating with Long-Term Certificates in Architecture and Construction programs, the average annual earning five years after graduating is $60,552, while manufacturing program graduates earn $54,378 in the same timeframe.

The study also looked at Illinois community colleges’ impact on local economies.

In fiscal year 2020, Illinois community colleges directly employed nearly 33,000 staff with a total payroll of $1.3 billion. In addition to wages and salaries, Illinois community colleges account for almost $500 million in additional expenses.

These direct impacts ripple through the economy creating additional jobs, payrolls, and other economic activity in Illinois.  The total economic output of Illinois community colleges on the statewide economy in fiscal year 2020 is estimated at $3.5 billion and 43,316 jobs.

The Illinois Community College System and ICCB are committed to creating, supporting, and expanding workforce training opportunities equitably in high-need communities.  In 2019, Illinois started the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) program, a grant program designed to increase workforce opportunities for African Americans which are severely underrepresented among Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.  Over the last two years, the WEI program has granted nearly $40 million to address education and unemployment gaps in the African American and other minority communities throughout Illinois.

When examining earnings one year prior to completion compared to three years after completion, African American student earnings increased 47 percent while Latinx students increased their earnings by 57 percent.

To review the full study, please visit https://bit.ly/iccbEIS.


John Wood Community College is the educational link between business and community. JWCC collaboratively creates innovative and relevant academic and training programs with business leaders to educate young people and the workforce for today's needs and tomorrow's opportunities. JWCC has centers in Quincy, Pittsfield, Baylis and Mt. Sterling, Illinois. Programs include a comprehensive baccalaureate transfer curriculum, customized business training, career/technical degrees, certificates, and personal enrichment courses.