South Florida Ranks High In Having the Least Proficient English Speaking Employees

A Brookings Institution study released Wednesday says that South Florida ranks fourth in the U.S. for percentage of workers with limited English proficiency.

The data shows that 23.2 percent of South Florida workers have limited English speaking skills, with only McAllen Texas, El Paso Texas and Los Angeles ranked higher than our neck of the woods.

Overall, the amount of working age people (ages 16 to 64) with limited English proficiency was 865,905 in 2012, which ranks third in the U.S.

The study goes on to show that South Florida's limited English proficiency population has grown from 2000 to 2012, compared with the rest of the nation.

The numbers show that nearly a quarter of workers in South Florida have limited English proficiency.

According to the study, 80.8 percent of the South Florida workers are Hispanic -- compared to 66.3 percent for the rest of the U.S. Sixteen percent speak Indo-European languages, while 2.6 percent are Asian.

The solution, Brookings says in their study, is to invest in immigrants' English skills. This, intern, would increase productivity, according to the report.

"English proficiency is an essential gateway to economic opportunity for immigrant workers in the United States," writes the author of the report, Jill H. Wilson.

"Access to acquiring these skills is persistently limited by a lack of resources and attention," Wilson also writes.

"Increasing investment in adult English instruction--through more funding, targeted outreach, and instructional innovations--would enhance the human capital of immigrants that could lead to more productive work and better outcomes for their children."

Brookings LEP Report by Chris Joseph

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph