Study: One in Ten Adults in U.S. Not Proficient in English

by Andrew Johnson

The number of working-age adults in the United States with limited proficiency in English has more than doubled since 1980, according to a new Brookings Institution study. Immigrants proficient in English, the study notes, tend to earn substantially higher incomes.

“English proficiency is a strong predictor of economic standing among immigrants, regardless of the amount of education they have attained, and it is associated with the greater academic and economic success of the workers’ children,” the study found.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the rise comes out to nearly 1 in 10 adults who lack sufficient English skills, two and a half times more than three decades ago. Two-thirds of those lacking proficiency are Spanish speakers.

In large cities, the numbers are even higher. For example, in Los Angeles and Miami, the Journal reports almost 25 percent of adults lack proficient English. The study also finds that cities such as Indianapolis have witnessed a near 100 percent increase in limited-English speakers since 2000.

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