America’s Most (and Least) Educated States

Print Email

5. New Jersey
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 36.6%
> Median household income: $70,165 (3rd highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 11.4% (8th lowest)

New Jersey is the highest-paying state in the nation for residents with at least a bachelor’s degree. Residents with a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of educational attainment had median earnings of $60,457 last year, the most in the nation. Those who had an even higher professional or graduate degree had median earnings of more than $80,000, also the highest in the U.S. Households in general were typically wealthier in New Jersey than in other states. The median household income in the state last year was greater than $70,000, higher than the national median income of $52,250 and third highest in the nation. Also, no state had a higher share of households that earned $200,000 or more, at 9.7%.

4.Connecticut
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 37.2%
> Median household income: $67,098 (5th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 10.7% (4th lowest)

Connecticut households were among the wealthiest in the U.S., with a median household income of more than $67,000 in 2013. And adult residents with at least a high school diploma were generally paid very well. At each level, from high school graduates through graduate degree holders, Connecticut was among the top five states by median earnings. The combination of high median earnings and the large share of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree likely contributed to low poverty rates. Less than 11% of residents lived below the poverty line in 2012, versus 15.8% nationally.

ALSO READ: The 10 Most Affordable Housing Markets in America

3. Maryland
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 37.4%
> Median household income: $72,483 (1st highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 10.1% (3rd lowest)

More than 37% of Maryland residents had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, while 17.1% had a graduate or professional degree, the second highest percentage in the nation. In addition to a well educated population, Maryland’s poverty rate was quite low. Just over 10% of Maryland residents lived in poverty in 2013, the third lowest rate in the country. Even among residents with only a high school diploma, poverty rates did not rise above 11%. Poverty rates were likely kept low by residents’ high earnings. Those with only a high school diploma earned a median pay of more than $32,000 in 2013, the third highest in the country.

2. Colorado
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 37.8%
> Median household income: $58,823 (12th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 13.0% (16th lowest)

While roughly 38% of Colorado residents had obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, only 5% of households had more than $200,000 in annual income, lower than in most of America’s most educated states. Median earnings among those with a higher level of education were also lower than in most other educated states. Residents ages 25 and up who finished their education with a bachelor’s degree earned less than $47,000, below the national median of $50,050. Geographical differences may be driving the lower levels of earnings. Colorado is one of only a few most educated state not located in the northeast.

ALSO READ: The 10 Least Affordable Housing Markets in America

1. Massachusetts
> Bachelor’s degree or higher: 40.3%
> Median household income: $66,768 (6th highest)
> Pct. below poverty level: 11.9% (11th lowest)

More than 40% of Massachusetts adults had obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in 2013, more than 10 percentage points higher than the national rate of 29.6%. Also, roughly one in every six adults in Massachusetts had a graduate or professional degree, the highest proportion of any state. While the state is highly educated, 6.5% of the population earned less than $10,000, the highest proportion among the most educated states. It is likely that Massachusetts will continued to be one of the top states for educational attainment, as nearly 16.0% of 18-24-year old in the state had a bachelor’s degree, the most out of any state.

Click here to see America’s least educated states