What is the cost to the United States economy attributable to a lack of basic English skills? There are currently over 11 million English learners living in the United States, including over 5 million currently attending elementary and secondary schools.
This paper utilizes data from the 2000 Census as well as a range of sources to estimate that $65 billion annually in wages are lost due to poor English language skills. Among other findings:
• There were 4.4 million “linguistically isolated” households in the United States in 1999, where all family members above the age of 14 have difficulty with English.
• Only one in four English learners in U.S. schools is foreign-born.
• Overall, limited proficiency in English imposes a wage penalty for Latino workers in the United States that can range from 3.8 to 38 percent, according to research by economist Libertad Gonzalez.
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