America’s Most and Least Educated States

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1. Massachusetts
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 42.7%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $60,503 (4th highest)
> Median household income: $75,297 (4th highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 3.7% (10th lowest)

Massachusetts is the only state in the country where over 40% of residents 25 and older have at least a four-year college degree. The share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is also increasing faster in the Bay State than across the country on the whole. The share of college educated adults climbed by 1.2 percentage points between 2015 and 2016, the fifth highest increase among states.

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2. Colorado
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.9%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $51,136 (17th highest)
> Median household income: $65,685 (12th highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 3.3% (7th lowest)

Adults with college degrees are more likely to have higher paying jobs than those with only a high school diploma. In Colorado, 39.9% of the adults age 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the 31.3% share of American adults. Partially as a result, the typical Colorado household earns $65,685 a year, well above the $57,617 the typical American household earns.

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3. Maryland
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.3%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $61,049 (3rd highest)
> Median household income: $78,945 (the highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 4.3% (19th lowest)

High-skilled, high-paying jobs are often only available to individuals with a college degree or higher. In Maryland, 15.6% of the labor force are employed in the professional, scientific, and management sector, the largest such share of any state. High employment in such a high skilled industry would likely not be possible in many states with a smaller share of college educated adults. Maryland’s 39.3% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is higher than that of all but two other states.

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4. Connecticut
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.6%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $61,257 (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $73,433 (6th highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 5.1% (16th highest)

Connecticut’s 38.6% share of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree is the second highest in New England and fourth highest in the United States. In general, higher educational attainment leads to higher annual incomes and in Connecticut, a four-year college degree is more valuable than in most other states. The typical college educated adult in Connecticut earns $61,257 a year, more than in every other state except for New Jersey, and nearly $10,000 more than is typical nationwide.

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5. New Jersey
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.6%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $62,300 (the highest)
> Median household income: $76,126 (3rd highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 5.0% (18th highest)

A four-year college degree is one of the most practical ways for Americans to increase their earning potential. In New Jersey, bachelor’s degree holders are more highly compensated than in any other state. The typical college graduate in the Garden State earns $62,300 a year — well above the comparable $51,676 median income among all Americans with a four-year degree. Some 38.6% of adults in New Jersey have a bachelor’s degree, the fifth highest share among states and a full percentage point increase over the 2015 share.