The Problem in Massachusetts

Low literacy impacts the full functioning of our democracy and growth of our economy. Lack of literacy skills affects economic productivity, health, community development, and the welfare of children across the nation - and in Massachusetts, too.

According to the report New Skills for a New Economy, published by the non-partisan think tank MassINC:

  • More than 1.1 million workers in the Commonwealth lack basic skills. 14.28% of the population lack a high school diploma and have limited proficiency in conversational English.
  • 667,000 workers have a high school credential but still lack basic math, literacy, language and analytic skills to perform in the typical workplace.
  • 280,000 are high school dropouts who lack necessary skills.
  • 195,000 are immigrants with limited English speaking skills who need to learn to speak English.
  • According to the Massachusetts State Assessment of Adult Literacy, 32% of adults were at basic or below basic skill levels for searching, comprehending, and using information from newspapers and instructional materials.
  • 53% of Massachusetts adults with "below basic" literacy levels across three literacy scales did not participate in the labor force.