Education, the Economy, and Society

Few would argue that a nation’s quality of education has a large and lasting impact on its economy. The following statements offer just some evidence for this and some compelling facts that highlight the mission of the Helps Education Fund: to support teachers and improve students’ quality of education.

Research shows that students with poor reading skills are less likely to graduate from high school (Daniel et al., 2006), and those who cannot graduate from high school are less likely to obtain certain economic and social privileges (Planty et al., 2009). Also, the fastest growing professions in today’s job market require greater literacy skills (Barton, 2000).

62% of jobs in the U.S. will require college education by 2018, and more than half of those will require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, states are not ready to meet this demand. For example, only 37.6% of North Carolinians hold a two or four year college degree – slightly below the national average. Without proper education in K-12 grades, there will be a major shortage of individuals who are ready for the workforce. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (2010), and see for information about your state.

According to Complete College America (2012), a Washington-based nonprofit aimed at increasing college completion , 4 out of 10 high school graduates are required to take remedial courses when they start college. For freshman seeking an associate degree, more than 50% require remediation courses to address skills that were not successfully learned in high school.

In an address by President Barack Obama, he pointed out that, “America’s business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game.” (see Others, including President Obama, have also strongly advocated that we must have high expectations for our students, and that we must provide them with a quality education to help them meet those expectations.

Individuals with a bachelor’s degree make 84% more money over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. Today, bachelor’s degree holders can expect median lifetime earnings approaching $2.3 million. By comparison, workers with just a high school diploma average roughly $1.3 million, which translates into a little more than $15 per hour.

On average (according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (2010)):

  • A high school dropout can expect to earn $973,000 over a lifetime.
  • Someone with a high school diploma can expect to earn $1.3 million over a lifetime.
  • A worker with some college but no degree earns $1.5 million over a lifetime.
  • An Associate’s degree-holder earns $1.7 million over a lifetime.
  • A worker with a Bachelor’s degree will earn $2.3 million over a lifetime.


Barton, P. E. (2000). What jobs require: Literacy, education, and training, 1940–2006. Washington, DC: Educational Testing Service.

Complete College America (2012). Retrieved July 2012 from

Daniel S.S., Walsh A.K., Goldston D.B., Arnold E.M., Reboussin B.A., & Wood F.B. (2006). Suicidality, school dropout, and reading problems among adolescents. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39, 507-514.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (2010). Help wanted: Projections of jobs and education requirements through 2018. Retrieved July 2012 from

Planty, M., Kena, G., Hannes, G. (Eds.) (2009). The Condition of Education 2009 in Brief (NCES 2009-082). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.