Gaston County's Rate of Illiteracy
The 2020 Census revealed the number of Gaston County residents, aged 25 or older, possessing at least a high school diploma or equivalent credential rose from 78.9% in 2010 to 86.7% in 2020. This progress is impressive, and Gaston is now nearly on par with State and National literacy averages (89% and 88.9%, respectively). Still, without at least a high school education, 13.3% of Gaston County’s adults are considered functionally illiterate. This high rate of illiteracy is a well-documented barrier to our region’s economic development.
Likewise, illiteracy is one of the foremost barriers to an individual’s employability, and those who are able to find work often cannot earn family-sustaining wages with opportunities for promotion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Among people 25 and over who had full-time jobs, the median usual weekly income for people without a high school diploma or equivalent test credential was $682 in 2022. With a high school diploma or equivalent test credential, it jumped to $853 a week, an increase of nearly 25%. With a 2-year Associate’s degree, median usual weekly income was $1,005 a week. More education equates to better paying jobs.”