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Cutting the High School Dropout Rate Means Economic Gains for West Virginia Metro Areas

Press Release:

Cutting the High School Dropout Rate Means Economic Gains for West Virginia Metro Areas

CHARLESTON, WV – Five metropolitan areas in West Virginia could see significant gains in their local economies were they to cut by half the dropout rate for just a single high school class, according to new data from the Alliance for Excellent Education. The study, which includes Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Weirton, and Wheeling, is a supplement to a larger national study that measures on a city-by-city basis the growth in several areas, including home ownership and mortgage values, levels of spending and investment, and car sales based on cutting the high school dropout rate in half in the nation’s largest cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas.

According to Bob Wise, Alliance president and former governor of West Virginia, these findings clearly prove that everyone benefits from improved education. “As these results demonstrate, the best economic stimulus package for West Virginia—and the nation—is a high school diploma,” he said. “If the U.S. is to improve its competitiveness in the global economy, it must have an education system that meets the fast-growing demand for high-level skills,” concluded Wise.

Last year the Alliance estimated that the more than 6,900 students who did not graduate from West Virginia’s high schools in 2009 will cost the state nearly $1.8 billion in lost lifetime earnings. For the first time, the Alliance can report how cutting the dropout rate in half in five metro areas of West Virginia would result in new jobs, additional spending on homes and automobiles, and increases in state and local tax revenues, among other benefits.

Summary of Key Findings

In the Charleston metropolitan area, an estimated 1,200 students dropped out from the Class of 2008 at great costs not only to themselves but to their communities as well. If the Class of 2008’s high school dropout rates were cut in half, the 600 new graduates in the Charleston metropolitan area would likely have:

  • bought homes worth $8.2 million more than what they would spend without a diploma;
  • increased the gross regional product by as much as $6 million by the time they reach the midpoints of their careers;
  • seen $5.1 million in increased earnings in the average year;
  • spent an additional $3.7 million and invested an additional $1.1 million each year;
  • boosted state and local tax revenues by $600,000 in the average year; and
  • spent an additional $500,000 each year purchasing vehicles.

In the Huntington metropolitan area, an estimated 900 students dropped out from the Class of 2008. If the Class of 2008’s high school dropout rates were cut in half, the 450 new graduates in the Huntington metropolitan area would likely have:

  • bought homes worth $8.9 million more than what they would spend without a diploma;
  • increased the gross regional product by as much as $6.5 million by the time they reach the midpoints of their careers;
  • seen $5.5 million in increased earnings in the average year;
  • spent an additional $4.1 million and invested an additional $1.1 million each year;
  • boosted state and local tax revenues by $600,000 in the average year; and
  • spent an additional $300,000 each year purchasing vehicles.

In the Morgantown metropolitan area, an estimated 400 students dropped out from the Class of 2008. If the Class of 2008’s high school dropout rates were cut in half, the 200 new graduates in the Morgantown metropolitan area would likely have:

  • bought homes worth $3.6 million more than what they would spend without a diploma;
  • increased the gross regional product by as much as $2.6 million by the time they reach the midpoints of their careers;
  • seen $2.2 million in increased earnings in the average year;
  • spent an additional $1.7 million and invested an additional $400,000 each year;
  • boosted state and local tax revenues by $200,000 in the average year; and
  • spent an additional $200,000 each year purchasing vehicles.

In the Weirton metropolitan area, an estimated 300 students dropped out from the Class of 2008. If the Class of 2008’s high school dropout rates were cut in half, the 150 new graduates in the Weirton metropolitan area would likely have:

  • bought homes worth $4.4 million more than what they would spend without a diploma;
  • increased the gross regional product by as much as $3.1 million by the time they reach the midpoints of their careers;
  • seen $2.7 million in increased earnings in the average year;
  • spent an additional $2 million and invested an additional $500,000 each year;
  • boosted state and local tax revenues by $300,000 in the average year; and
  • spent an additional $100,000 each year purchasing vehicles.

In the Wheeling metropolitan area, an estimated 300 students dropped out from the Class of 2008. If the Class of 2008’s high school dropout rates were cut in half, the 150 new graduates in the Wheeling metropolitan area would likely have:

  • bought homes worth $2.8 million more than what they would spend without a diploma;
  • increased the gross regional product by as much as $2.1 million by the time they reach the midpoints of their careers;
  • seen $1.8 million in increased earnings in the average year;
  • spent an additional $1.4 million and invested an additional $300,000 each year
  • boosted state and local tax revenues by $200,000 in the average year; and
  • spent an additional $100,000 each year purchasing vehicles.

The economic model used to generate this report was developed by the Alliance for Excellent Education with the generous support of State Farm® and in partnership with Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

“As a business leader 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®. “The new findings from the Alliance for Excellent Education conclusively demonstrate that graduating from high school has significant positive economic and financial consequences for the business community and not just for the individual getting the education. 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.”

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve national and federal policy so that all students can achieve at high academic levels and graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century. For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit www.all4ed.com
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Categories: High School Dropout Rates

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