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The Social Cost of High School Dropouts

A recent study highlights the true economic cost of high school dropouts.
For every high school dropout, society will pay nearly $300,000 in lost tax
revenue, increased public welfare and incarceration expenses.

Who are these dropouts? The study show that about 23 percent of
incarcerated dropouts are black, about 7 percent are of Asian descent,
another 7 percent are white, and about 6 percent are Hispanic.

The report analyzed 2008 unemployment rates to discover that 54 percent of
high school dropouts had no jobs, as compared to only 32 percent of high
school graduates.

To be a drop out in this decade is very different than being a drop out in
recent decades past. Our current economy’s need for unskilled labor is
rapidly diminishing. So the kinds of jobs available to a high school
dropout are disappearing right before our very eyes.

When our economy was largely based on manufacturing, being a high school
dropout usually meant quitting school in senior year, finding work at a
steel or automobile plant and making enough money to support a small family.
Those days are gone.

What can be done to meet the educational needs of six million high school
dropouts? Some civil rights and education groups are beginning a push for
new educational opportunities for high school dropouts. But those efforts
will be futile if there aren’t enough jobs for the graduates of alternative
education programs.


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