Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Economic Return on an Investment in Education

by Linda Cameron, Sr. Marketing Associate

Why It Matters
Rigorous research demonstrates that children who participate in high-quality early learning programs are significantly more likely to enter school with the underlying skills needed to succeed in school and later in the workforce. These programs have been shown to increase language skills, lower the need for special education, and increase graduation rates.

Providing quality early learning is a key factor in attracting skilled workers and new business to Washington State. Unskilled workers cost the United States $319 billion annually in lost wages, productivity and taxes. Businesses spend $3.7 billion each year teaching basic skills to employees.

In addition, research shows that investments in early learning will save Washington businesses millions of dollars lost every year due to employee absenteeism because of child care problems. On average, parents miss five to nine days of work every year dealing with child care arrangements.

In Washington State, research shows that investing in quality early education creates new jobs immediately and grows the economy. In these tough economic times, businesses look at their bottom lines every day and analyze how to generate the most return for each dollar invested.

These investments pay big dividends to businesses both today and tomorrow. They strengthen communities and get children ready for school and work. These investments have a higher return than investments in all other major sectors, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, utilities and transportation.

Every dollar invested in early childhood programs will generate more than $2 in additional employment and spending on goods and services. Moreover, every two early education jobs created will generate enough spending to support another job.

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Peninsula Gateway wrote, “If we just provided high-quality preschools for our state’s 4-year-olds, we could save public schools 10 percent of the special education budget, about $120 million a year.”

All of this is just another way of saying that what happens before kids start school really counts.