Literacy Cooperative makes the economic case for post-secondary education

As part of its mission to improve literacy across Cuyahoga County, the Literacy Cooperative is releasing a series of public education and advocacy briefs focused on addressing systemic and institutional barriers that affect those who have earned a high school diploma or GED, but are unprepared for post-secondary education or workforce success and are, therefore, unemployed or underemployed.

Issued on Oct. 26, the first of these briefs, titled "The Economic Case for Literacy," explores the economic incentives for Cuyahoga County to address barriers to academic success, in particular, post-secondary success—from higher employability and significantly higher lifetime individual earnings to increased tax revenues and decreased public costs.

"Even one year of post-secondary education leads . . . to increases of four to seven percent in per capita output [for businesses]," as stated in "The Economic Case for Literacy." Furthermore, the earnings gap between those who have a high school diploma and those with a higher level of education is now estimated to be as wide as 84 percent.

According to research conducted by the Literacy Cooperative, the 270,000 Cuyahoga County adults (ages 25-64) who have a high school diploma, but no post-secondary credentials, can improve their economic prospects, as well as that of Northeast Ohio’s economy, by obtaining a post-secondary certificate.

The Literacy Cooperative’s research suggests that achieving success does not necessarily require a substantial increased investment. Reevaluating, and possibly redirecting, current available resources could prove very effective in obtaining post-secondary credentials.

To read the full text of "The Economic Case for Literacy," go to

Katherine Bulava

Katherine Bulava is president of Hatha Communications. The Literacy Cooperative is a client.

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Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 9:44 AM, 11.14.2011