Researchers used National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) data to answer questions about how the public workforce investment system can expedite workers’ transition from a declining industry to expanding industries, in addition to other questions.
"The report, Workers in Declining Industries: Literacy’s Role in Worker Transitions, examined the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) data and determined that literacy deficiencies are the critical barrier that prevents workers in declining occupations from adapting to the demands of high growth occupations. The report suggests that using O*NET data organized around literacy requirements of both declining and high-growth occupations is one way local area planners can affect the structural causes for unemployment by attracting industries that minimize the retraining needed by dislocated workers" (Abstractor: Website Staff).

Major Findings & Recommendations

"Structural unemployment requires a response that can address large numbers of workers who typically represent occupations in a declining industry. The impact of large-scale worker displacement has degrading effects on local economies. To combat these events, regional economic development strategies should compare the capabilities and skills of workers in declining industries with the requirements of expanding industries and high-growth occupations. Workers in declining occupations do not differ from workers in the general population except in the area of functioning literacy levels and college degrees. NAAL data show that literacy deficiencies, perhaps more than educational attainment, is the critical barrier that prevents workers in declining occupations from adapting to the demands of high-growth occupations. By using O*NET data organized around literacy requirements of both declining and high-growth occupations, local area planners can affect the structural causes for unemployment by attracting industries that minimize the retraining needed by the pool of workers dislocated from declining industries. Efficiencies at this important planning stage of economic development reduce the duration of unemployment and the overall adverse effects of layoffs on the local economy" (p. 13). (Abstractor: Author)