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

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6. Virginia
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
36.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 88.5%
> 2014 median household income: $64,902 (8th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $55,797 (8th highest)

As in most well-educated states, Virginia’s college attainment rate improved slightly from 2013. In 2014, 36.7% of Virginia adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, an improvement of slightly more than half a percentage point from the previous year. Higher levels of education likely led to higher incomes for many state residents. A typical household in Virginia earned $64,902 last year, one of the highest median incomes in the nation. State spending on education is traditionally linked with high educational attainment rates. Though Virginia had the sixth highest collegiate educational attainment rate, it spent just $10,960 per student in 2013, only $260 more than the amount spent on the average American public school student.

7. New Hampshire
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
35.0%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.2%
> 2014 median household income: $66,532 (7th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $51,965 (7th highest)

In New Hampshire, which had one of the highest college attainment rates, 92.2% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the fifth highest rate in the country. Nationwide, higher college attainment rates are associated with higher income levels — and New Hampshire is no different. A typical household in New Hampshire earned $66,532 last year, one of the highest median incomes in the nation. A better-educated workforce is more likely to find work than one with more unskilled workers. In New Hampshire, the 2014 unemployment rate of 4.3% was the seventh lowest in the country.

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8. Vermont
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
34.9%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.0%
> 2014 median household income: $54,166 (20th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $42,228 (20th highest)

States with high proportions of college-educated adults almost always also had similarly strong high school attainment rates. In Vermont, nearly 35% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree and 92.0% had at least a high school diploma, each the eighth highest rate nationwide. A better-educated workforce is more likely to find work than one with less-skilled workers. This may have been the case in Vermont, where the unemployment rate of 4.1% was the fifth lowest in the country in 2014. Vermont invested heavily in its public education system. The Green Mountain State spent $16,377 per pupil on education in 2013, a higher expenditure than in all but four other states.

9. New York
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
34.5%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 85.7%
> 2014 median household income: $58,878 (16th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $53,280 (16th highest)

New York spends more money on education per student than any other state. Public school funding reached nearly $20,000 per pupil in 2013. In contrast, the national average spending per pupil in 2013 was just $10,700. High-paying jobs often require high levels of education. In New York, which had the ninth highest college attainment rate, 11.5% of workers were employed in traditionally high-paying professional, scientific jobs, also one of the highest such shares. States with high proportions of college-educated adults also often had similarly strong high school attainment rates, although this was not always the case. While New York had one of the highest college attainment rates, just 85.7% of adults had at least a high school diploma, one of the lowest rates in the country.

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10. Minnesota
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree:
34.3%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.6%
> 2014 median household income: $61,481 (10th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $51,226 (10th highest)

Like in just nine other states, more than one-third of adults in Minnesota had at least a bachelor’s degree. States with high proportions of college-educated adults almost always also had similarly strong high school attainment rates. In Minnesota, 92.6% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the second highest rate nationwide after only Alaska. Highly educated populations also tend to report higher incomes. A typical household in Minnesota earned $61,481 last year, one of the highest median incomes in the nation. A better-educated workforce is also more likely to find work than one with more unskilled workers. Perhaps as a result, Minnesota’s unemployment rate of 4.1% in 2014 was the fifth lowest in the country.