America’s Most and Least Educated States: A Survey of All 50

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The University of Utah, Salt Lake City

16. Utah
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.8%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.5%
> 2015 median household income: $62,912 (13th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,255 (22nd lowest)

In Utah, 31.8% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the higher such shares in the country. States with high college attainment rates tend to have strong high school attainment as well. In Utah, 91.5% of adults have at least graduated from high school, the 10th highest in the country. Some college graduates in the state may work in professional, scientific, and management occupations, which are high paying and often require college degrees. In Utah, such professions account for 11.9% of the workforce — one of the largest shares of any state.

Friends University, Wichita, Kansas

17. Kansas
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.3%
> 2015 median household income: $53,906 (24th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,436 (24th lowest)

In Kansas, 31.7% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a somewhat larger share than the 30.6% of Americans with similar educational attainment. While higher educational attainment tends to lead to higher incomes, the typical Kansas household earns about $2,000 less than the typical household nationwide.

University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus, Honolulu

18. Hawaii
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.4%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.9%
> 2015 median household income: $73,486 (2nd highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,167 (20th lowest)

In Hawaii, 31.4% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than most states. One would expect Hawaii’s college attainment rate to be much higher given that its high school attainment rate, at nearly 91%, is one of the highest of all states. It is possible that poor financial incentives the state fail to attract and keep college graduates. Nearly 91% of Hawaiian adults have at least a high school diploma, one of the highest such figures.

Howard High School, Wilimington, Delaware

19. Delaware
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.9%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 88.9%
> 2015 median household income: $61,255 (14th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $52,261 (11th highest)

Of adults in Delaware, 30.9% have at least a bachelor’s degree, roughly equivalent to the 30.6% national college attainment rate. While the state’s educational attainment rate is similar to the national one, the typical Delaware household earns roughly $5,500 more than the typical American household. One reason for the relatively high incomes may be the large share of workers in high-paying fields that often require college degrees. Nearly one in 10 Delaware workers are employed in finance and insurance fields, the highest such proportion of any state.

University of Montana

20. Montana
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.6%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 93.5%
> 2015 median household income: $49,509 (14th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $39,292 (the lowest)

In both Montana and the nation as a whole, 30.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The typical college graduate in Montana earns just $39,292 a year, the least of any state and only $7,444 more than the median earnings for all educational backgrounds in Montana. One would expect Montana’s college attainment rate to be much higher given that its high school attainment rate, at nearly 94%, is one of the highest of all states. It is likely that due to poor financial incentives college graduates leave the state to find better-paying jobs elsewhere, or are less likely to move to the state.