Arizona Loses More than $7.6 Billion in Lost Economic Activity with Each Class of Arizona Dropouts

Posted on: June 27, 2014

The more than 18,000 Arizona students who dropped out of high school this year will produce $7.6 billion less economic activity over their lifetimes than if those same students had graduated, according to a new report by the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable.  

Cutting the dropout rate in half would generate $3.8 billion more in economic benefits to the state for each graduating class.  

Key takeaways from the study include:

  • Each Arizona high school dropout results in a $421,280 loss in economic activity over his or her lifetime.  This figure includes lost earnings, increased health care and crime-related costs, lost economic productivity and lost tax revenue.  
  • In the City of Phoenix, the number is higher: each dropout results in a $463,500 economic loss – creating a $1.42 billion economic loss per graduating class.
  • In Arizona, each dropout will earn $271,040 less over the course of their lifetime than counterparts who graduate.  Dropouts face higher risks of unemployment and economic insecurity.
  • Each dropout will cost taxpayers an additional $98,520 more in crime-related expenses over the course of their lifetime.
  • Of the $7.6 billion in Arizona economic loss, $1.5 billion represents lost revenue and increased expenses for state and local governments. 
  • In 2012, Arizona’s disconnected youth population – that is, young people who are neither in school nor working – was 183,200, or 22 percent of population aged 16 to 24.  This disconnected population results in an aggregate economic loss of more than $127 billion.

The full report is available at:

The report was commissioned by the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, an initiative of Helios Education Foundation and WestEd, which brings together mayors of Arizona’s larger cities to share data, promising practices and strategies that can help address local challenges affecting students’ educational and career success. 

“We appreciate the leadership of the Mayors Roundtable in shedding more light on a critical issue like the impact of the dropout rate on our state’s future economic viability,” said Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “Having the Mayors hold these statewide discussions will help enable our communities to identify and respond to the contributing factors and set goals that will re-engage students and put them back on the path toward college and career readiness.”  

“Beyond the profound consequences to individuals and their families, we are now able to quantify the impact of school dropouts on Arizona’s economy,” said Paul H. Koehler, director of WestEd’s Policy Center and coordinator of the Mayors Roundtable. “This report should serve as a clarion call to action for state educators, policy makers, and all Arizonans.”  

Category: College and Career Readiness

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