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As of October 2001, the latest year for which data are available, there were approximately 3,774,000 high school dropouts1 between the ages of 16 and 24 in the U.S. This translates into a total dropout rate of 10.7 percent for youth in this age group, a rate that has remained fairly stable since 1992.

Since 1970, Hispanic students have had the highest dropout rates, representing well over a quarter of Hispanic young adults. The high Hispanic dropout rate (27 percent) is partly driven by the significantly higher dropout rate among foreign-born Hispanics of 43.4 percent in 2001. The corresponding rates for White and Black students were 7.3 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively. Although the gap in the dropout rate between Blacks and Whites narrowed between the 1970s and 1980s, the gap has remained constant since 1990.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students who drop out of high school are more likely to be unemployed and earn less when employed, compared to students who complete high school.

Graph: Status School Dropout Rates[d]

1 This term refers to status dropouts, which represents 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (diploma or equivalent).