Study measures dropouts' impact

Increasing graduation numbers will help economy, report predicts

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If more people graduated high school instead of dropping out, many more homes and cars would be sold, thousands of jobs would be filled with qualified candidates and more money in general would flow throughout the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based think tank.

"The best economic stimulus is a high school diploma," Bob Wise, the president of the alliance and a former West Virginia governor, said in a statement. "From the individual student to the bank branch manager, new car salesman or Realtor, everyone wins when more students graduate from high school."

Nationally, 1.3 million students dropped out of the Class of 2010. In Georgia, that number was about 61,500, and in South Carolina an estimated 30,000, according to the report, "Education and the Economy: Boosting the Nation's Economy by Improving High School Graduation Rates."

The report essentially argues that high school graduates' earning power is higher than that of dropouts, therefore reducing the number of dropouts would help the economy.

If those dropout numbers had been cut in half -- 650,000 nationally, 30,750 in Georgia and 15,000 in South Carolina -- the following are estimated increases from the earning and spending power of more graduates:

- Home sales: $19 billion more nationally, $742 million more in Georgia and $345 million more in South Carolina

- Automobile sales: $741 million a year more nationally, $33 million in Georgia and $16 million in South Carolina

- New jobs: 54,000 supported nationally, 3,700 in Georgia and 1,000 in South Carolina

- Contribution to economic growth by the midpoint of their careers: as much as $9.6 billion nationally, $495 million in Georgia and $187 million in South Carolina

- Earnings increase with diploma: $7.6 billion a year nationally, $343 million in Georgia and $161 million in South Carolina

- Spending increase with diploma: $5.6 billion a year nationally, $256 million in Georgia and $121 million in South Carolina

- Investment increase: $2 billion a year nationally, $87 million in Georgia and $39 million in South Carolina

- State tax revenue increase: $713 million a year nationally, $26 million in Georgia and $13 million in South Carolina

"Decisions on how to close budget gaps -- both nationally and in states -- and build a strong economy must begin with ensuring better educational outcomes for the nation's students," Wise said. "There's been a lot of talk about how budget deficits threaten our children's future, but the best way to cut budget deficits is to cut dropout rates."

The report cites U.S. Census Bureau data, which show a high school dropout earned an average of $21,023 in 2008, compared with $31,283 for a high school graduate and $58,613 for someone with a bachelor's degree.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, high school dropouts are more than three times as likely to be unemployed as college graduates.

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Martinez 03/24/11 - 06:47 am
This article states the

This article states the obvious without examing underlying facts. Sure those without a high school diploma make less money. Just like runners over 400 lbs don't do as well in the Boston Marathon. The answer is not to "give away" more diplomas. The lack of a diploma is often just one symptom of a larger problem, a lack of motivation, work ethic etc. Giving away a diploma won't solve their problem once in the work place. In fact, in some communities, unearned diplomas can cause a loss of employment opportunities for everyone. What company wants to hire high school graduates who can't read, don't want to work and have the mentality that if something is too hard - the expectation will simply be lowered. If more earned income will truly stimulate the economy, implement welfare limits. Set a time limit, then cut people off. There is a huge arguement that America needs migrant workers, often illegals, to perform jobs Americans won't do. Stop giving away money and the workers will come. Maybe then, students will realize that not working in school really means they will have to work harder in life.

corgimom 03/24/11 - 07:11 am
Great post, Martinez!

Great post, Martinez!

kittikatt 03/24/11 - 07:39 am
Duh. Even my 6th graders

Duh. Even my 6th graders know that more education = higher gross domestic product.

WW1949 03/24/11 - 08:42 am
Martinez, you are right on

Martinez, you are right on target with the comment about illegals doing jobs that Americans will not do because they get "their check" from our hard earned money. I would cut them all at least 50% and they would have to work. Just yesterday I was at the Amoco station at Broad and Milledge and a healthey looking man was in line with me and was bragging that he did not have to work because he was on disability. He walked out of the store just fine. Also yesterday I had a man cleaning my office grounds and the warehouse that lives in the neighborhood and he was saying he did not have a cell phone now and was waiting on his "obama phone". He would get 250 min a month and pay just $.10 a minute after that. He also gets a check from the VA. He didn't even get thru basic because he got kicked out because he was AWOL too much. Such foolishness on the part of our government. I am glad I am not just starting my working years because taxes are going to kill the young when they start because of foolishness like this.

peonynut 03/24/11 - 09:42 am
Maybe we should spend the

Maybe we should spend the money to do a study as to why we do studies that state the obvious.

hdrider 03/24/11 - 10:12 am
Also if people didn't put

Also if people didn't put themselves into debt by financing their way through life, this country would fourish. We wouldn't have drastic ups and downs based on "consumer confidence." People woud actually have more money to spend on goods rather than having their income tied up by paying back banks...with interest. I realize this was a little off topic.

Jason Wermers
Jason Wermers 03/24/11 - 04:15 pm
I am glad to see my story

I am glad to see my story elicited some well-thought-out comments. For those who did feel moved to comment, especially those who said to themselves -- Uh, isn't this stating the obvious? -- I encourage you to read the blog entry I just posted here: Thanks, and keep the comments coming.

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