Why is this important?

The educational requirements for occupations are increasing, particularly for new and emerging occupations, high-technical, high-skilled, and high-wage jobs.  In addition, changes to the economy, job requirements and society now demand that every high school student graduate prepared to continue to postsecondary education and the workforce.

The relationship between the health of a community and state and the quality of education is well-documented. Our state, and the communities in our state, cannot be successful without high-quality education. Nowhere is this more apparent than with respect to employment and economic development. Consider the following statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • The unemployment rate for high school dropouts in 2009 was 14.6 percent. In contrast, it was 9.7 percent for those with a high school diploma, 6.8 percent for those with an associate degree and 3.9 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree.

  • In 2009, adults without a high school diploma had weekly median incomes of $454 ($23,608 annually).  In contrast, those with a bachelor’s degree earned $1,025 per week ($53,300 annually).  For a professional degree, the figure was $1,529 a week ($79,508 annually).

  • By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in the United States will require at least some kind of postsecondary diploma. Most rapid employment growth will be among jobs that require, at minimum, a master’s degree.

Without a well-trained workforce, Missouri will face a future of high unemployment, low-paying jobs and economic failure. Low wages and high unemployment lead to low state revenue―low state revenue leads to inadequately funded state programs―and inadequately funded state programs lead to poor performance in key areas including public education.  This is the formula for a state spiraling downwards in terms of quality of life for its citizens.