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John Harvard's Journal

Energizing the Local Economy

March-April 2009

In mid January, the University published “Investing in Innovation,” the most recent report in a series prepared by Appleseed, a New York-based consultant, that details Harvard’s impact on the Greater Boston economy (see, for instance, “The Academy and the City,” November-December 1999, page 77). The study found that Harvard, with 18,350 full- and part-time workers, ranked second among area private employers, behind Massachusetts General Hospital. Including direct payrolls, purchasing, construction, and spending by employees, vendors, and students, the consultants estimated that Harvard accounted for $4.8 billion of economic activity and 44,000 full-time-equivalent jobs locally.

Perhaps of greater moment is Harvard’s prospective impact. The report noted that in “past economic downturns,” higher-education institutions “tended to remain stable” or even grew, as other industries shed jobs. But given the University’s need to adjust to the diminished value of the endowment, sustaining that positive effect in a sharply declining economy appears challenging now.

The report appears at www.community.harvard.edu/economic_impact.php.

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