Adult Learners:
Percent of 18 to 64 Year Olds Who Have Just a High School Diploma or Less, and are Living in Families with Incomes Below a Living Wage

For the Year

Undereducated Adults Not Earning a Living Wage

Why is this important?

One component of achieving the American Dream is that workers can earn a living wage (defined as living in families with incomes above 200% of poverty level) and will have access to clear paths for career or occupational progression. Education is clearly related to this condition. For example in 2005, 21.4% of families with no high school degree were living below the poverty line compared to 7.1% of those with high school diplomas and 1.8% of those with a bachelors degree (Baum and Ma, 2007).

Higher levels of education are associated with better working conditions (IHEP, 1998), less unemployment, and workers are more likely to have employer-supplied health insurance (Baum and Ma, 2007).

What are the policy implications?

States vary widely with respect to the proportions of their adult populations who are working poor. For example, such individuals represent more than a quarter of the population in states like Mississippi and West Virginia, but less than ten percent of the population in New Hampshire. This suggests very different levels of priority for programs like Adult Basic Education (ABE), worker training and vocational/technical education.

Other factors to consider:

States and counties with high levels of poverty among children and families also exhibit low levels of educational attainment.

Unemployment Rates

Families in Poverty

Children in Poverty

Data sources and related links:

U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.censu

2006 American Community Survey, http://