Adding Up the Under-Skilled

A survey finds nearly half of U.S. adults lack the literacy to cope with modern life

For years U.S. employers have been grousing that more and more aspiring workers lack the know-how to get the most basic jobs done. Last week such complaints received alarming confirmation. Adult Literacy in America, a 150- page survey conducted by the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service and released by the Department of Education, reported that roughly 90 million Americans over age 16 -- almost half that category's total population -- are, as far as most workplaces are concerned, basically unfit for employment.

Who is included in that definition? Those who can sign a credit-card receipt but are incapable of writing a letter...

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