ICC Remains a Critical Piece to Regional Economy & 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 the state

Illinois Central College continues to help drive the Greater Peoria area’s 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.

“In the Greater Peoria region, we know only 40 percent of adults have a post-secondary credential while 60 percent of jobs require a credential past high school. At Illinois Central College, we work diligently to help our community and individuals reach their goals. When adults earn post-secondary credentials, it not only changes the trajectory of their lives, but also the lives of their families, while growing the workforce, expanding businesses, and creating a more vibrant regional economy,” said ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “This statewide study confirms the life-changing impact community colleges have on their communities, and we are proud to be part of it.”

The analysis on ICC states, “In recent years more than 80 percent of completers of long-term certificate programs or Associate in Applied Science programs at Illinois Central College are employed in career jobs within a year of graduation… Beyond the effects of direct spending and employment, Illinois Central College also strengthens the regional economy by addressing employers’ workforce needs.”

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 report issued by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). “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, ICCB, and ICC are committed to creating, supporting, and expanding workforce training opportunities equitably in high-need communities. In 2019, Illinois Central College launched 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 ICC study, click here. To review the statewide study and economic impact fact sheet, visit