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At A Glance…
Fact Sheet on the Costs and Consequences of Dropping Out of School
Employment and Income
§ Students who dropped out of high school were three times more likely than college graduates to be unemployed in 2004 (Silent Epidemic, 2007).
§ According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts is more than 30 percent higher than that of graduates. When employed, those without a diploma earn close to 30 percent less (Orfield, Losen, Wald, & Swanson, 2004).
§ The U.S. Census estimates that high school dropouts will earn $270,000 less than high school graduates over their working lives. Census data also show that the earnings gap between high school graduates and dropouts has grown over the last two decades – in 1975, high school graduates earned 90% as much as high school graduates; in 1999, high school dropouts earned 75% as much (Orfield, Losen, Wald, & Swanson, 2004).
§ Dropouts earn $9,200 less per year than high school graduates and more than $1 million less over a lifetime than college graduates (Silent Epidemic, 2007; National Center for Dropout Prevention, 2007).
§ The number of jobs offering livable wages for individuals without high school diplomas grows less each year, as demonstrated by the rapid shrinkage of the industrial work force, which lost 2.3 million jobs since 1991 (Orfield, Losen, Wald, & Swanson, 2004).
Costs to Society
§ Dropouts are four times less likely to volunteer than college graduates, less likely to vote or participate in community projects, and represent only 3 percent of actively engaged citizens in the U.S. today (Silent Epidemic, 2007).
§ The financial benefits of dropout prevention are 2.5 times greater than the costs of implementing programs (Levin, Belfield, Muennig, & Rouse 2007).
§ The government would gain $45 billion in extra tax revenues and reduced costs in public health, crime, and welfare payments if the number of high school dropouts among 20-year olds in the U.S. today (more than 700,000 individuals) were cut by half (Silent Epidemic, 2007).
§ Three-quarters of state prison inmates have dropped out of school (Martin & Halperin, 2006; National Center for Dropout Prevention, 2007).
§ Individuals who dropped out of school are more likely to be in poor health than individuals who completed high school (Silent Epidemic, 2007; Happel, 2006).
§ Individuals who do not complete high school are less likely to have jobs that provide health insurance (Levin, Belfield, Muennig, & Rouse, 2007)