Dropouts struggle for jobs in Ohio

About 244,000 Ohioans 25 and older without high school diplomas were employed last year, and 561,000 were not.
TNS Regional News
Sep 10, 2013


High school dropouts in Ohio who are 25 or older are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as job-seekers of the same age that have high school diplomas, a review of federal data by the Dayton Daily News found.

Ohio’s dropouts also are less likely to be employed or looking for work than their counterparts in most other states, and opportunities for high school dropouts are expected to continue to shrink.

The workplace has changed in recent decades and employers increasingly want workers with technical skills and higher levels of education because jobs are becoming more complicated, experts said.

“Competition for jobs is so fierce right now that dropouts are squeezed out of most opportunities,” said Michael Carter, superintendent of School and Community Partnerships at Sinclair Community College.

In 2012, only about 35 percent of Ohioans 25 and older who did not finish high school participated in the labor force, and only 30 percent were employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last year, Ohio had a lower labor force participation rate among adult high school dropouts than all but five states. That demographic in Ohio is less likely to be employed than counterparts in 43 other states.

About 244,000 Ohioans 25 and older without high school diplomas were employed last year, and 561,000 were not.

Some students drop out because of life events, such as a pregnancy or an arrest. Some have discipline or attendance problems or believe finishing school will not make a difference in what jobs they can get.

But the most common reason students drop out is that they live in poverty and they struggle to make it to school, said Robert Balfanz, research professor at the School of Education at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

These students receive failing grades and drop out because they believe they cannot succeed in the academic environment.

Regardless of cause, dropping out often has dire consequences, especially in today’s unforgiving job market.

In 2012, 13.7 percent of high school dropouts in Ohio 25 and older were unemployed, compared to 7 percent of high school graduates of the same age and 3.4 percent of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher degrees, labor data show.

Employers want to hire workers who already have some job skills, and they definitely prefer workers who have a diploma, Balfanz said.

“At some level, (finishing school) reflects core competencies of the modern workplace,” Balfanz said. “You’ve got to show up, you’ve got to do the work and you’ve got to be able to interact with a lot of different people.”

Kassi Burt, 30, of Quincy, said she dropped out midway through her senior year of high school because she was pregnant and wanted to work to support her child.

Burt later obtained her GED and completed nursing school, but says she regrets dropping out.

“A GED is what it is, but I wish I had my diploma because I have several siblings and they all have diplomas, and they’ve gone farther in life with just the diploma,” she said. “People don’t look at a GED the same way they look at a diploma.”

Global competition and technological advancements have changed the workplace and the labor market.

Four decades ago, more than 70 percent of jobs required a high school diploma or less, but today about 60 percent of jobs require more than a high school diploma, said Jason Amos, vice president of communications for the Alliance for Excellent Education, a nonprofit organization in Washington.

“The majority of jobs in today’s knowledge-based economy require a high school diploma at minimum, and in most cases they need some form of education after high school,” he said.

Jobs that do not require a high school diploma are disappearing, and the jobs that remain do not pay enough for workers to support themselves or a family, Amos said.

In Ohio, high school graduates on average make about $7,500 more annually than high school dropouts, Amos said. College graduates on average earn $27,000 more annually than dropouts.

“For the individual, (dropping out) can be a $1 million mistake,” he said. “That is the difference in lifetime earnings for a college graduate versus a high school dropout.”

High school dropouts often must work multiple jobs. Many receive government support including food stamps and Medicaid. Some run into trouble with the law. In Ohio, about eight in 10 people entering the Ohio prison system do not have a high school diploma or a GED, according to the state.

Early intervention is crucial to combat the dropout issue, experts said.

Students who are not succeeding in traditional school environments may benefit from switching to an alternative or technical school that can offer more flexible schedules and allow students to learn at their own pace, said Carter, who used to be the director of Sinclair’s Fast Forward Center.

The Fast Forward Center serves students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school or are not attending school regularly.

Since 2002, the center has helped 2,800 high school dropouts earn high school diplomas, Carter said.

“It may take a lot of hard work, but with the economy and circumstances today, it is pretty much mandatory that people need to get a high school diploma or GED,” he said.

Albert Rankin attended Dunbar High School but said he was distracted and had a hard time focusing on schoolwork. He started skipping class frequently.

But then Rankin participated in the Fast Forward program, and he enrolled in Mound Street Academies, a charter school in Dayton. He earned his diploma in 2009.

Rankin said the charter school allowed him to work at his own pace and educators helped him learn subjects he struggled to comprehend, such as science and social studies.

“They pinpoint what you actually need,” said Rankin, 23. “They pinpoint, ‘Hey, you are failing in this area, so let’s work on that,’ instead of being (lost) in a classroom full of 30 people.”

Rankin works at a bookstore and attended Sinclair. He said he wants to transfer to a four-year college to get a degree in mechanical engineering.

“I really liked going to school, but (Mound Street) was more relaxed,” he said. “You could just do your work and you weren’t distracted as much.”

CLOSER LOOK: We reviewed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for this story. We are committed to writing about issues that affect jobs and the economy.


By Cornelius Frolik - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

Visit the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) at www.daytondailynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services



If you do not graduate, you might as well kiss it all goodbye. In todays world the job market for those who just have a HS graduation certificate is drying up fast. Bottom line is if you make bad choices, then you have to live with the consequences that follow. So tired of the "feel bad for everyone that makes bad choices stories".


It's called natural selection. Look into it!


No I don't think it's the feel bad for ones who have made bad choices , I think it's the "society" and what it's became, we have allowed this to happen, the same crap was going on back in my younger days but, it was all kept quiet, you cannot tell me with any brain, morals, or integrity, that we didn't have criminals years ago, they just looked at "criminals" as murderers, rapist, and robbers, and we have allowed them to be recognized publicly, by news television and papers, which in return is showing younger generations that hey I can do that be recognized and still move on? This is wrong, I understand addiction, it's also been around many many years in fact every since a cigarette or a beer has been legal to buy, but now our "addicts" are always considered to be criminals and with the world looking at them this way they feel why not ? They think I am , I understand some addicts steal and rob and that is different then your "typical" addict who has problems at coping in this world without there "feel good" medicine and hurt nobody, why should they be publicized now adays as criminals ??? Drag racing on a side road was a crime we still done it, driving and drinking was in my day but we still looked for that older person to drive us around who could buy us beer, and we all knew where to buy it, all I'm saying we still need to seperate the crimes with the criminals and stop interfering with the families who are battling an addict and trying to help them live in a world of sobriety not public humiliation!!!!


So you are ok with someone addicted to meth or cocaine or heroin (running rampant in Huron County) which is totally ILLEGAL, as long as they aren't out robbing or stealing from someone?

Its called ENABLING and that is what our society has become ENTITLEMENT ENABLERS. Criminals in Huron County now think they are entitled to a 3rd or 4th chance to break the law and the county judicial system enables them to do just that.

Its not my fault when someone picks up a crack pipe or decides to shoot up with heroin because someone wasn't there to hold their hand through a tough time. This society is becoming so weak.

Do you know how many people struggle through life and have struggled for years to get where they are. Tears, anger, frustration.......and they never resorted to drugs for their answer. Ask anyone who went through the great depression of the Carter years and they will tell you it wasn't easy at all.

Personal choices and fighting through it instead of giving in is being lost in America. Drugs in the past.....sure there was. Crime...sure there was but what you failed to mention alwaysatfault is how they have increased dramatically over the last 10 years.

"I dont have a job I like....my family is a mess....I keep hanging out with the same losers who are always in trouble and bring me down...." The list of excuses go on and on. Instead of CHANGING their lifestyle, which can be tough but is possible for EVERYONE...they fall into the same old same old family cycle.

Turn to a community group or a church, if you really want to change your life. They will help you if you are willing to help yourself and really change.

Stop enabling these people and stop making them feel entitled to multiple offenses with just a slap on the wrist and we might get somewhere in this failing county.


BRAVO! BRAVO! Now someone will come on here and call you heartless and your perfect and you should blah, blah, blah...A standing ovation for you!


In this day and age, there is no excuse for anyone who WANTS a GED to not get one. It should be a requirement to receive government assistance.