Higher education in Colorado accounts for $4.25 billion in wages and salaries, according to a study released yesterday [630Kb pdf] by the Adams Group.

The analysis counted 57,675 people working in higher education in Colorado, with another 39,888 indirect or induced jobs.

The $4.25 billion figure comes from the assumption that the jobs pay the average state wage of $43,524.

If that’s the case, higher education would contribute nearly $387 million in state and local taxes to Colorado’s economy annually, the study says.

Colorado has 13 public four-year colleges and universities, 18 two-year community colleges, four public vocational and technical schools and three private, nonprofit institutions.

The Adams Group study said the public higher education sector accounts for more than half of all jobs in state government.

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As an employer, higher education is bigger that mining, heavy construction, electronics, telecommunications or the federal government.

The public colleges, universities and community colleges have a combined 213,956 students.