5. Anaheim, Calif.
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: N/A
> Pct. adults with college degree: 24.5% (22nd highest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 5.19 (5th highest)
> Median income: $56,858 (10th highest)
Anaheim scored badly in several key categories for literacy. It ranked among the lowest of all large cities in terms of newspaper circulation. In addition, it was of one of several cities to receive the lowest ranking in Internet readership, indicating that people were not reading news or books digitally. The only area where Anaheim scored relatively well was in the number of booksellers per capita, ranking above nearly two-thirds of all major cities. Only 74% of the population over the age of 25 had a high school diploma as of 2011, the fifth-lowest of all cities with populations over 250,000.
4. El Paso, Texas
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 9.92 (68th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 22.5% (15th lowest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 0.36 (the least)
> Median income: $40,702 (22nd lowest)
El Paso ranked in the bottom 10 of all cities in four of the six categories measuring literacy. Notably, El Paso ranked dead last for the total number of bookstores — independent, used, rare and retail — relative to the population of the city. In addition, the city ranked third from the bottom in terms of publication circulation and among the bottom in terms of newspaper circulation. Educational attainment in El Paso was also among the bottom 10 major cities. Just 76.4% of El Paso adults had at least a high-school education in 2011, compared to 85.9% of the United States as a whole. Meanwhile, only 22.5% of adults had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 28.5% of the population.
3. Stockton, Calif.
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 10.35 (66th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 17.3% (6th lowest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 0.57 (6th least)
> Median income: $44,310 (36th lowest)
The city of Stockton ranked among the bottom in nearly all categories of literacy. For instance, it ranked among the worst in the circulation of publications and journals. Further, in 2011, only about three in four residents at least 25 years old had a high school education, and just over 17% had a college degree — both measures among the lowest of all large U.S. cities. This is apparent in the income of Stockton’s residents: more than one in four lived below the poverty line in 2011, compared to just under 16% in the country as a whole. The percentage of people working in the generally low-paying retail field, at 14.2%, was the third-highest percentage of all cities measured in 2011.
2. Corpus Christi, Texas
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 13.45 (63rd highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 22.1% (12th lowest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 0.45 (tied-2nd least)
> Median income: $44,893 (37th highest)
Corpus Christi produces fewer non-newspaper publications than almost all other large cities in the United States. No magazines with a circulation of more than 2,500 are published there, while just one journal with a circulation exceeding 500 is published in the city. Further, there were just 21 bookstores in the city of 300,000, according to Miller’s study. Additionally, the city’s library resources were rated among the worst in the nation, largely due to a limited number of volumes and staff.
1. Bakersfield, Calif.
> Weekday newspaper circulation per 100: 11.19 (64th highest)
> Pct. adults with college degree: 20.1% (9th lowest)
> Retail bookstores per 10,000: 0.54 (4th least)
> Median income: $51,667 (14th highest)
Bakersfield, Calif. was ranked the least literate among American cities with a population of more than 250,000. The city ranked among the bottom 10 cities in all six categories measured. It was third from the bottom for booksellers and third from the bottom for periodicals like newspapers and journals. The literacy ranking may be a reflection of the professional positions of the city’s residents. Only 8.2% of the population worked in professional, scientific and management positions in 2011, the fifth-lowest percentage of all cities. Nearly 10% of the city worked in agriculture, forestry, hunting and mining, the highest of all cities measured.
Alexander E. M. Hess, Samuel Weigley and Michael B. Sauter