The lack of basic skills not only means low grades in school, but also lowered expectations for life as an adult.
Adults at Level 1 worked an average of 19 weeks a year, compared to an average of 44 weeks per year for those at Level 5.
Adults at Level 1 earned a median income of $240 per week, compared to $681 for those at Level 5.
Some 43 percent of adults at Level 1 were living in poverty, compared to 4 percent at Level 5.
As literacy levels fall, the likelihood of being on welfare rises. Three out of four food stamp recipients performed at the two lowest literacy levels.
Seven out of ten prisoners performed at the lowest two literacy levels.
Source: National Institute for Literacy