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Skills and Earnings in the Full-Time Labor Market
Neeta Fogg, Paul Harrington, and Ishwar Khatiwada


The authors first and foremost wish to acknowledge Irwin Kirsch and Anita Sands of the Center for Research on Human Capital and Education at ETS. Irwin and Anita brought us into the world of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and encouraged us to prepare this first in a series of monographs using its extraordinary data to better understand the impact of foundational skills on the labor market experiences of American adults. Too often, those in the policy arena conflate educational attainment with skills and abilities that are valued in the labor market. As we prepared the final touches of this monograph, the Census Bureau released a new report celebrating the achievement of 90 percent of American adults earning a high school diploma. Yet the PIAAC findings suggest a worrisome disconnect between the educational attainment of adults and their literacy and numeracy skills. Irwin and Anita have pushed us to explore this disconnect and examine its meaning in the American labor market.

We also want to acknowledge Brian McMahon of Virginia Commonwealth University and Robert Nakosteen of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who generously served as external peer reviewers for this paper. The insights and experience they bring to the review process are extraordinary. We would also like to acknowledge the internal review team at ETS led by John Sabatini, who served as a skilled hand in managing the review process and providing us with constructive comments from his team. Larry Hanover provided a strong and steady hand editing and very much improving our original manuscript. Larry is a skilled editor and a true gentleman. Our Drexel University colleague Laura Knoll provided important research and editing support along with an amiable demeanor that makes us value her work all the more.


We would like to dedicate this report to our friend, mentor, and a great American: Andrew M. Sum, Professor Emeritus of Northeastern University.