An online article by Betsy Loeff, contributing writer
Literacy — or the lack of it — could be a factor for utilities facing calls from customers who don’t understand their bills.
Last December, the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal-government agency, released its most recent findings on adult literacy. Nearly 14 percent of U.S. residents over age 18 scored below “basic” proficiency in simple reading and mathematical tasks.
“These 30 million Americans cannot do much more than sign a form or search a simple document to find out what they are allowed to drink before a medical test,” said NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider when he released the study results.
Almost 29 percent — 63 million people — demonstrated only basic literacy skills. This means they’ll probably understand a simple newspaper story but might have trouble finding information in formal reference materials or comparing information in two newspaper editorials.
Another 11 million people — or 5 percent of the adult U.S. population — proved non-literate in English.
Betsy Loeff has been freelancing for the past 14 years from her home in Golden, Colo. She has been covering utilities for almost four years as a contributor to AMRA News, the monthly publication of the Automatic Meter Reading Association.