Low Literacy and Our Economy

Low literacy is directly connected to poverty and dramatically impacts our region’s economy.

    • Detroit has the highest poverty rate among the 20 largest American cities and the Detroit median household income of $29,526 is the lowest among those cities.
    • 87% of children in Michigan whose parents do not have a high school degree live in low-income families.
    • In January 2011, the unemployment rate among individuals without a high school diploma was more than twice the rate of those with a diploma. 
    • Approximately 47,500 students did not graduate from Michigan’s high schools in 2007; the lost lifetime earnings in Michigan for that class alone are more than $12.3 billion.
    • If just 1,000 dropouts in metro Detroit’s Class of 2010 had graduated from high school, they would likely:
      • earn as much as $14 million in additional earnings in an average year;
      • spend an additional $800,000 each year purchasing vehicles and, by the time they reach the midpoint of their careers, spend up to $39 million more on homes than they would likely spend without a diploma;
      •  support as many as 900 new jobs in the region;
      • increase the gross regional product by up to $18 million,
      •  and pour as much as an additional $1.4 million annually into state and local coffers, all through their increased spending and investments.

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