Education is among the most visible and critical markers that often divide rich from poor. Education levels also influence health, homeownership, and median earnings. These are some of the reasons why the federal government tracks education levels. Traditionally, the levels are those who have attended high school but not graduated, those with high school degrees, those who have some college, those who have college degrees, and those who have education beyond college. While the higher rungs on this ladder take many years longer to reach than the lower ones, it is most often “worth it”. The more educated tend to lead better lives.
Another calculation experts make about higher education does not have such clear results. The debt taken on by people who go to and may graduate college can jump into the tens of thousands of dollars. The number can be higher for advanced degrees. The question becomes whether the higher earnings that often come from higher education can offset the resulting burden of debt.
Nationwide, an estimated 32.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. But across the United States, there are ZIP codes where over 85% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Using education data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most educated ZIP code in the United States.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among adults with a four-year college education was 5.5% in 2020. Meanwhile, the jobless rate among those with no more than a high school diploma was 9.0%. In most of the ZIP codes on this list — those with the highest bachelor’s degree attainment nationwide — the five-year average overall unemployment rate is below the comparable national rate of 5.3%.
In addition to being better protected from unemployment, Americans with a bachelor’s degree also tend to have higher salaries. The average weekly wage for a college-educated worker in the United States is about 67% higher than it is for those with no more than a high school diploma. And in places with well-educated populations, incomes tend to be higher than average.
The best-educated ZIP Code in America is 02163, Here are the details:
> Location: Boston, Massachusetts
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 97.1%
> Adults with a graduate or professional degree: 35.4% — 429th highest of 20,112 ZIP codes (tied)
> Median household income: $53,214 — 12,384th highest of 20,099 ZIP codes (tied)
> Estimated unemployment rate 2015-2019: 12.2% — 19,350th lowest of 20,109 ZIP codes (tied)
> Population: 2,621
Methodology: To determine America’s most educated ZIP code, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the percentage of adults 25 years and over with at least a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.
We used ZIP Code Tabulation Areas — a Census geography type that defines areal representations of United States Postal Service ZIP codes (USPS ZIP codes do not define geographic boundaries but instead are a network of mail delivery routes in a service area). We refer to Census ZCTAs as ZIP codes.
Of the 33,120 ZIP codes the Census publishes data for, 32,989 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.
ZIP codes were excluded if bachelor’s degree or higher attainment rates were not available in the 2019 ACS, if the ZIP code’s 25 and older population was less than 1,000, or if the sampling error associated with a ZIP code’s data was deemed too high.
The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a ZIP code’s bachelor’s degree or higher attainment rate was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all ZIP codes’ bachelor’s degree or higher attainment rate. We similarly excluded ZIP codes that had a sampling error too high for their 25 and over population estimates, using the same definition.
The remaining 20,112 ZIP codes were ranked based on the share of adults 25 years and over with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Additional information on the share of adults 25 years and over who have a graduate or professional degree, median household income, unemployment rates for the 16 and older population in the civilian labor force, and population figures are also five-year estimates from the 2019 ACS.
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