New research shows the impact of illiteracy in the U.S

New findings highlight the financial cost and social impact brought about because 21 percent of people in the US have low level literacy skills.

The “Economic Cost and Social Impact of Illiteracy” report has revealed the estimated financial cost to the wider economy in the U.S. is $300.8 billion per year.

World Literacy Foundation Chief Executive Officer and co-author of the report Andrew Kay said reduced income earning capacity and social costs are the main reason why illiteracy is costing the U.S. economy each year.

“As a community of literacy experts, we face significant challenges as the early data shows a drop in literacy rates post-pandemic,” Kay said. “Literacy can change everything in the life of a young person and provide a pathway to reach their full potential.”

It’s estimated in the U.S. approximately 70 million people struggle to read, write and hold basic numeracy skills. To highlight the true impact of illiteracy in the U.S., Kay spoke about this economic cost and social impact report at the Oxford University World Literacy Summit 2023 held today, Monday April 3.

Dr. Tony Cree, Chair of the World Literacy Council, said the literacy conference this week is playing a central role for the first-time post-pandemic, bringing together practitioners and academics to share the latest global research and learnings to address a spike in illiteracy.

Cree said, “The three-day meeting will put a spotlight on people and organizations doing exemplary and innovative work in the literacy sector around the world. We know the past 24 months have highlighted the need for communities to unite for literacy.”

The World Literacy Summit will host around 500 literary specialists from 85 countries from April 2 to April 5 at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. A further 48,000 people from the developing world will attend the event via virtual/online TV channel.

Globally, 770 million people can’t read a single word, a further 2 billion people struggle to read a sentence. The summit is a vital opportunity for the wider literacy community to come together, find solutions, and create a roadmap for the future.