As the national economy evolves, a greater premium is placed on workers with strong literacy and workplace skills. But across the country, a significant number of adults lack these skills, leaving them ill-prepared to succeed in the labor market and to achieve economic security.
For example, more than 25 millions adults do not have a high school degree, which seriously limits their chances to advance.
At the same time, there is a structural problem with the economy that falls hardest on low-wage workers. Nearly 20 percent of all jobs in America are in occupations where the median pay is less than a poverty wage for a family of four. This threatens the economic security of working families and limits their opportunities to save and move into the middle class.
States have the power and responsibility to address these interrelated issues. The Working Poor Families Project and other initiatives seek to strengthen key state policies and programs in education and skills training, economic development, and in policies affecting conditions of employment, such as the minimum wage and unemployment insurance.