Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stay in school, make more money

A new study that estimates the lifetime incomes of high school dropouts vs. those who graduate finds dropouts make nearly half as much.

Stay in school, make more money


It doesn’t take a college degree to understand that the high dropout rate in Philadelphia’s schools is bad for the city’s economic competitiveness.

Employers constantly complain that job applicants they see don’t have the skills they need. That includes high school and college graduates. Dropouts? Forget it.

As well-intentioned as it sounds, simply telling students “stay in school” isn’t cutting it.

Thanks to a new study by Northeastern University, I suggest we appeal to their greed: “Stay in school, make more money.”

The study, released by the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, determined a high school graduate in Philadelphia earns almost twice the lifetime earnings of a high school dropout. That’s $870,600 vs. $457,100.

The mean annual earnings of a dropout in the city were only $9,663. Compare that with the $19,437 for someone with a high-school diploma or $47,613 to someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The 77-page study outlines all the costs to society in great detail. But to me, the mercenary message that 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders need to hear over and over is: “You’ll make more money if you graduate.”

Dropouts who think they’ll just get a job often don’t. The study says only 39 percent of dropouts were employed in the city in 2006. That was when the economy was ascendant. Millions of jobs have been wiped out since then.

Another study released yesterday noted Philadelphia boosted its graduation rate by 23.2 percentage points between 1995 and 2005. Impressive progress, but still only 62.1 percent of Philadelphia School District students graduate, according to the report prepared for America’s Promise Alliance.

A lot of things are out of our personal control. Graduating from high school in the richest country on earth should not be one of them.


“We’re watching things very closely but will pounce only when the sun, moon and stars align.”

- Peter Carlino, CEO of Penn National Gaming Inc. , the Wyomissing-based operator of racetracks and casinos, told Bloomberg News referring to possible acquisitions of properties on the Las Vegas Strip.

Inquirer Columnist
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter