Literacy Rate By State In The United States For 2023

The states with the highest literacy rates in the United States are New Hampshire and Maine.

Literacy rates in the United States research summary. We analyzed research by the NCES to identify the states with the highest and lowest literacy rates in the United States. The variation in literacy rates among states can be attributed to socioeconomic, educational, and cultural factors.

Here are the key takeaways from the report on literacy in the United States.

  • The state with the highest literacy rate in the United States is New Hampshire with a literacy rate of 89%.

  • The state with the lowest literacy rate in the United States is New Mexico with a literacy rate of 71%.

  • The national average literacy rate is 22%.

Literacy Rate By State

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Ranking States By Literacy Rates

Ranking Literacy Rate By State

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The variation in literacy rates among states can be attributed to a combination of socioeconomic, educational, and cultural factors. Here are some key factors that may help explain the differences in literacy rates:

  • Education Funding. States that allocate more resources and funding towards their education systems tend to have higher literacy rates. These resources can be used to hire qualified teachers, provide quality educational materials, and maintain school infrastructure.

  • Education Quality. The quality of education can vary significantly from state to state. States with strong educational standards and effective teaching methods are likely to produce literate citizens.

  • Poverty Levels. Higher poverty levels can be associated with lower literacy rates. When families struggle to make ends meet, children may not have access to educational resources or may be forced to work at a young age instead of attending school.

  • Access to Education. The availability of schools, especially in rural areas, can impact literacy rates. States with better access to schools and educational programs are more likely to have higher literacy rates.

  • Cultural and Social Factors. Cultural attitudes towards education can play a role. In some states, there may be a stronger emphasis on the value of education, leading to higher literacy rates.

States With The Highest Literacy Rates

  1. New Hampshire – 89.0% Literacy Rate
  2. North Dakota – 87.0% Literacy Rate
  3. Montana – 87.0% Literacy Rate
  4. Minnesota – 87.0% Literacy Rate
  5. Vermont – 87.0% Literacy Rate
  6. Alaska – 87.0% Literacy Rate
  7. Maine – 87.0% Literacy Rate
  8. Utah – 86.0% Literacy Rate
  9. Wyoming – 86.0% Literacy Rate
  10. Wisconsin – 85.0% Literacy Rate

States With The Lowest Literacy Rates

  1. New Mexico – 71.0% Literacy Rate
  2. Texas – 72.0% Literacy Rate
  3. California – 72.0% Literacy Rate
  4. Mississippi – 72.0% Literacy Rate
  5. Louisiana – 73.0% Literacy Rate
  6. Nevada – 75.0% Literacy Rate
  7. Georgia – 76.0% Literacy Rate
  8. Florida – 76.0% Literacy Rate
  9. Alabama – 76.0% Literacy Rate
  10. New York – 76.0% Literacy Rate

Literacy Rates By State

Rank State Literacy Rate
1 New Hampshire 89.0%
2 Maine 87.0%
2 North Dakota 87.0%
2 Montana 87.0%
2 Minnesota 87.0%
2 Vermont 87.0%
2 Alaska 87.0%
8 Utah 86.0%
8 Wyoming 86.0%
10 Wisconsin 85.0%
10 Iowa 85.0%
10 South Dakota 85.0%
13 Idaho 84.0%
13 Nebraska 84.0%
13 Hawaii 84.0%
13 Washington 84.0%
17 Massachusetts 83.0%
17 Connecticut 83.0%
17 Kansas 83.0%
17 Oregon 83.0%
17 Colorado 83.0%
22 Ohio 82.0%
22 Michigan 82.0%
22 Pennsylvania 82.0%
25 Virginia 81.0%
25 Indiana 81.0%
25 Missouri 81.0%
28 Rhode Island 80.0%
28 Illinois 80.0%
28 Delaware 80.0%
28 Oklahoma 80.0%
28 Maryland 80.0%
33 North Carolina 79.0%
33 West Virginia 79.0%
33 New Jersey 79.0%
36 South Carolina 78.0%
36 Kentucky 78.0%
36 Tennessee 78.0%
39 Arizona 77.0%
39 Arkansas 77.0%
41 New York 76.0%
41 Alabama 76.0%
41 Florida 76.0%
41 Georgia 76.0%
45 Nevada 75.0%
46 Louisiana 73.0%
47 Mississippi 72.0%
47 California 72.0%
47 Texas 72.0%
50 New Mexico 71.0%

Methodology: How We Analyzed The Literacy Rate In Each State

We used data from NCES to determine the literacy rate in each state of the United States. Unfortunately, the most recent survey was conducted in 2017, so the data needs to catch up. However, the data still serves as a helpful reference point for understanding the literacy landscape across states. Based on this data, the ranking of states from highest to lowest literacy rates can offer insights into each state’s educational and socioeconomic conditions.

We ranked each state from the highest to lowest literacy rates based on the results of the most recent report.

It’s worth noting that the data’s limitations, including advanced statistical methods like small area estimation and the combination of PIAAC data with American Community Survey data, may need to be revised in the estimates. However, statistical analysis commonly uses these methods to provide valuable insights when conducting large-scale surveys.


Policy decisions, historical factors, and social dynamics can also contribute to the differences in literacy rates by state. Addressing lower literacy rates often requires a combination of strategies, including improving educational systems, reducing poverty, and promoting a culture of learning and literacy.


About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

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