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“DIPLOMAS MEAN DOLLARS”: High School Graduates Earn $8,000 More Annually Compared to High School Dropouts, According to New Data

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“Graduating more students from high school who are prepared for college is good for the individuals in terms of higher earnings, but it also benefits the nation in terms of increased tax revenue, additional spending on homes and automobiles, job creation, and a more robust economic growth.”

Released in conjunction with the July 18 White House Roundtable on Education with Business Leaders, new data from the Alliance for Excellent Education reveals that high school graduates earn a national average of $8,000 more annually compared to high school dropouts.

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The state-by-state data shows the average annual incomes in every state for high school dropouts, high school graduates, individuals with associate’s degrees, and bachelor degree recipients. The increased benefits for earning a high school diploma vary from $13,046 in Alaska to $5,339 in Arkansas. The average annual earnings by educational attainment for individuals in the District of Columbia is in the graph to the right.

“Diplomas mean dollars,” said roundtable attendee Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Graduating more students from high school who are prepared for college is good for the individuals in terms of higher earnings, but it also benefits the nation in terms of increased tax revenue, additional spending on homes and automobiles, job creation, and a more robust economic growth.”

Not only do high school graduates earn more than high school dropouts, they are also more likely to be employed. According to June 2011 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for high school graduates was 10 percent, compared to 14.3 percent for dropouts. College graduates, with an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, fare even better.

The income data was derived from a sophisticated economic model that the Alliance, with generous support from State Farm®, developed with Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., an economics firm specializing in socioeconomic impact tools. Previously, the Alliance released data for the nation, all fifty states, and more than 220 metro areas showing the economic gains of cutting the high school dropout rate in half. (Find data for your area at here).

“As a business leader and a parent, I’m committed to a quality education for all children and to strengthening the vitality of our communities,” said Edward B. Rust Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of State Farm®, who also attended the White House roundtable. “Assuring that all of our students graduate from high school with the skills necessary to compete in a global economy is something all businesses—small and large—should see as a priority.”

A table with the annual income difference by educational attainment for every state is available at here.

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