Published: Jul 18, 2011 7:46 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 18, 2011 6:46 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC - New data reveals that high school graduates nationwide earn an average of $8,000 more annually compared to high school dropouts.

The state-by-state data, released by the Alliance for Excellent Education, shows the average annual incomes in every state for high school dropouts, high school graduates, individuals with associate’s degrees, and bachelor degree recipients. The increased benefits for earning a high school diploma varies from $13,046 in Alaska to $5,339 in Arkansas.

“Diplomas mean dollars,” said round table attendee Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Graduating more students from high school prepared for college is good for the individual in terms of higher earnings, but it also benefits the nation in terms of increased tax revenue, additional spending on homes and automobiles, job creation, and a more robust economic growth.”

Not only do high school graduates earn more than high school dropouts, they are also more likely to be employed. According to June 2011 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for high school graduates was 10 percent, compared to 14.3 percent for dropouts. College graduates, with an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, fare even better.

The income data released Monday was derived from a sophisticated economic model that the Alliance, with generous support from State Farm®, developed with Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI), an economics firm specializing in socioeconomic impact tools. Previously, the Alliance released data for the nation, all fifty states, and more than 220 metro areas showing the economic gains of cutting the high school dropout rate in half. (Find data for your area at ).

“As a business leader and a parent, I’m committed to a quality education for all children and to strengthening the vitality of our communities,” said Edward B. Rust Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of State Farm®, who also attended the White House round table. “Assuring that all of our students graduate from high school with the skills necessary to compete in a global economy is something all businesses—small and large—should see as a priority.”

The data released today is derived from EMSI’s industry data on average income per worker, broken out by gender, ethnicity, and education level using data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau.