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

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University of Tennessee, Knoxville

41. Tennessee
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 25.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 86.1%
> 2015 median household income: $47,275 (9th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $45,600 (15th lowest)

Tennessee’s college attainment rate remained effectively unchanged last year, and at 25.7% is 10th lowest of all states. Educational attainment often reflects the workforce composition of a given state. States with a disproportionately low share of adults who have earned a college degree tend to have more workers employed in low-skilled jobs that are less likely to require post high school training. Of Tennessee’s workers, 12.3% are employed in retail and 6.5% in the transportation and warehousing industry, each in the top five shares among all states. These two industries provide jobs that do not typically require a college degree.

Notre Dame, Indiana

42. Indiana
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.9%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 88.2%
> 2015 median household income: $50,532 (16th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,884 (23rd highest)

Indiana’s adults are slightly more likely than American adults to have graduated from high school. However, just 24.9% of Indiana’s adults have a college degree, more than 5 percentage points lower than the national figure of 30.6%. States with lower college attainment rates tend to share certain characteristics, including generally lower wages and, consequently, lower home values. Indiana’s median household income of $50,532 a year is more than $5,000 below the median income nationwide. The typical Indiana home is valued at $131,000, about $63,000 below the national median home value.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, Library

43. Oklahoma
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.6%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 87.3%
> 2015 median household income: $48,568 (12th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $42,195 (7th lowest)

Fewer than one in every four Oklahoma adults have a bachelor’s degree versus the national proportion of close to one in three. Most states with the lowest bachelor attainment rates also have relatively high unemployment rates. For job seekers without college degrees, a certain number of opportunities are simply inaccessible. Oklahoma’s job market does not mirror this trend, however. The state’s 2015 unemployment rate of 4.2% is well below the national jobless rate of 5.3%.

Auburn Campus, Alabama

44. Alabama
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 24.2%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 84.9%
> 2015 median household income: $44,765 (4th lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $46,740 (25th highest)

Alabama’s bachelor’s attainment rate increased slightly last year, from 23.5% in 2014 to 24.2% in 2015. However, Alabama remains the state with the seventh lowest bachelor’s attainment. Those relatively few Alabama adults who have a college degree benefit significantly, earning $46,740 a year, or $14,272 more than the statewide median earnings.

University Of Nevada

45. Nevada
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 23.6%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 85.6%
> 2015 median household income: $52,431 (22nd lowest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $45,977 (18th lowest)

Nevada has by far the largest arts, entertainment and recreation, and accommodation and food services sector. The industry employs more than 25% of all workers in the state, in stark contrast with the less than 10% of workers employed by the industry nationwide. Jobs found in the sector do not typically require a college degree, which helps explain Nevada’s relatively low college attainment rate. At 23.6%, the rate is nearly the lowest in the country.