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Community Colleges

Community Colleges

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Executive summary

The Community Colleges industry, which primarily offers associate degrees, certificates or diplomas below the baccalaureate level, has been on a downward trajectory over most of the five years to 2022. Prior to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, United States labor market growth limited demand for associates degrees. When student's job prospects improve, they may forgo industry services to seize employment opportunities. However, in 2020, the pandemic caused the national unemployment rate to spike. To the industry's detriment, the shift to remote learning limited demand for community colleges from new students. Interestingly, while demand for for-profit junior colleges increased in 2020, enrollments in the much large public community college market plummeted. After the labor market's triumphant return in 2021 and 2022, growth in other alternatives such as travel furthered industry decline.
Additionally, in the public community college market, increasing tuition lead to falling enrollment rates, particularly in 2020, contributing significantly to lower industry revenue. Consequently, industry revenue has decreased modestly at an annualized rate of 1.4% to $62.6 billion over the five years to 2022. In 2022, industry revenue is expected to fall 1.5%.
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Each report includes:

industry revenue;

industry profit;

industry margin;

industry employment;

industry major players;

industry key external drivers;

industry product & structure segmentation;

industry key trends;

industry Life Cycle;

industry Geographic Breakdown;

industry Key Success Factors;

industry Key statistics for previous years;

forecast of industry Key statistics for the next 5 years;

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Reference Wordlist

High barriers to entry mean that new companies struggle to enter an industry, while low barriers mean it is easy for new companies to enter an industry.

Compares the amount of money spent on capital (plant, machinery and equipment) with that spent on labor.
IBISWorld uses the ratio of depreciation to wages as a proxy for capital intensity. High capital intensity is more than $ 0.333 of capital to $ 1 of labor; medium is $ 0.125 to $ 0.333 of capital to $ 1 of labor; low is less than $ 0.125 of capital for every $ 1 of labor.

The dollar figures in the Key Statistics table, including forecasts, are adjusted for inflation using the current year (i.e. year published) as the base year. This removes the impact of changes in the purchasing power of the dollar, leaving only the "real" growth or decline in industry metrics. The inflation adjustments in IBISWorld’s reports are made using the US Bureau of Economic Analysis’ implicit GDP price deflator.

Spending on industry goods and services within the United States, regardless of their country of origin. It is derived by adding imports to industry revenue, and then subtracting exports.

The number of permanent, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, working proprietors, partners, managers and executives within the industry.

Colloquial Terminology

The percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds no longer enrolled in high school with a high school diploma or equivalent.

A method of learning where student take courses off campus, such as via the internet.

A program authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act that is the major source of federal student aid. Programs include loans, grants and federal work study programs.


Prior to the pandemic, national unemployment fell significantly, enabling potential students to pursue full-time employment instead of investing in community college courses. Additionally, students foregoing the high costs of universities sought credits through community colleges. Industry profit, measured as earnings before interest and taxes, has fallen slightly to 3.5% due to poor revenue performance, despite lower wages and layoffs. Consistent growth in government funding has kept the industry from declining further.

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