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

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Ohio State University

36. Ohio
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.8%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.7%
> 2015 median household income: $51,075 (17th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $50,191 (18th highest)

The median earnings for an individual Ohio worker and the median income for Ohio households are each below the corresponding national figures. However, the typical earnings for a bachelor’s degree holder in the state is $50,191 a year, higher than in most states. However, the percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, at 26.8%, is among the lower rates.

University of Iowa

37. Iowa
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.8%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7%
> 2015 median household income: $54,736 (25th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,518 (25th lowest)

Not only is Iowa’s college attainment rate one of the lower rates in the nation, but also it fell last year — the only state to report such a decline. States with relatively low levels of higher education attainment usually share certain social and economic characteristics, including low health insurance coverage. Just 5% of Iowans go without health insurance, however, nearly the lowest uninsured rate of any state.

University of New Mexico

38. New Mexico
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.5%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 84.6%
> 2015 median household income: $45,382 (6th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $42,423 (8th lowest)

New Mexico’s college attainment rate of 26.5% is well below the nationwide rate. Because of the relationship between the two measures, states tend to rank similarly in both college and high school attainment. However, even considering its low share of adults with college degrees, New Mexico has a disproportionately low high school attainment rate. Just 84.6% of state adults have a high school diploma, the fifth lowest share in the country. States with lower educational attainment tend to have larger employment representation in industries that prominently feature low-skill work. New Mexico has above average shares of workers employed in the construction industry, as well as in agriculture.

Cheyenne High School, Wyoming

39. Wyoming
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.2%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.2%
> 2015 median household income: $60,214 (17th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,092 (19th lowest)

The educational attainment of a population often reflects the employment composition of the area as some industries have a greater demand for college graduates than others. This phenomenon likely partially explains Wyoming’s relatively low 26.2% share of adults with a bachelor’s degree. Those employed in the construction and transportation industries — each of which are less likely to require a college degree for employment — make up a relatively large share of Wyoming’s workforce compared to other states.

Skyline High School, Idaho Falls, Idaho

40. Idaho
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 26.0%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.0%
> 2015 median household income: $48,275 (11th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $42,661 (9th lowest)

As is the case in most states with low educational attainment rates, Idaho residents are not especially wealthy. The typical household in Idaho earns $48,275 annually, the typical worker earns $36,469 a year, and the typical college-educated worker earns $42,661 a year — each among the lowest incomes of any state.