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Latino males lead in high school dropout numbers

Wed, Jan 2, 2013

The employment and earnings prospects of high school dropouts continues to decline as The Great Recession has eased, leaving the poorly educated young adults of the 2010s considerably worse off in the city of Chicago, its metropolitan region, and Illinois as a whole, according to a new report commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network and prepared by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.

The report found that Latino dropouts have seen their economic potential wane even more quickly than any other demographic – male Latinos in particular have seen joblessness rise and wages fall in the city, region and state – even as the ethnicity’s power in the voting booth continues to rise.

“The crucial need for a high school diploma in achieving stable and even moderately paying employment over a lifetime continues to grow with each passing decade – and yet our fastest-growing demographic groups continue to lag behind in achieving that goal,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies, who prepared the report with Ishwar Khatiwada. “Policy-makers at all levels must find the wherewithal to invest in these youth before they go over the educational cliff.”

The report High School Dropouts in Chicago and Illinois and Their Persistent Labor Market Problems was released December 10 at the Home Grown Solutions: Policies and Programs to Re-Enroll Out of School Youth policy convening with more than 300 policy leaders and re-enrolled youth. Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton, Illinois General Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and Chicago Board of Education members Jesse Ruiz and Andrea Zopp were among the speakers at the forum at The Union League Club of Chicago.

Convening co-sponsors included the Chicago Urban League, Youth Connection Charter School, the Alternative Schools Network, WTTW 11 Chicago, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Illinois Network of Charter Schools and the Illinois State Council on Re-Enrolling Students Who Dropped out of School.

“While the Latino community demonstrated a growing political power at the ballot box, their economic growth is still being hampered by high dropout rates,” said Jack Wuest, executive director at the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, which commissioned the report, as part of an ongoing series of reports on out of school and unemployed youth from Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.

The central findings of the report include:

Illinois adults ages 18 to 64 who lack a high school diploma or GED both worked fewer hours and weeks, and earned lower average wages.

These discrepancies begin in early adulthood and continue through retirement years, increasing with each passing decade of life.

Some 15% of youth ages 19 to 24 in the city of Chicago (nearly 38,000) lacked a high school diploma.

Among 19- to 24-year-olds, Latinos (23%) and African Americans (18%) were more likely than white, non-Latinos (4%) to have dropped out overall.

Youth ages 19 to 24 who were foreign born were more than twice as likely (25.2% vs. 11.6%) to lack a diploma.

Despite the easing of the Great Recession, just over half of high school dropouts ages 18 to 64 in the city of Chicago (52.9%) worked at all in the year prior to the 2010-11 ACS.

The employment percentage of 16- to 19-year-old dropouts in the city of Chicago has declined by more than half in the past 12 years, from 38.9% in 1999-2000 to 18.2% in 2011-12. Among slightly older dropouts, those ages 20 to 24, 50.7% were employed in 1999-2000 and 32.3% in 2011-12.

Written by Andrew Miller,
StreetWise Contributor

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