Special Report

America's Most and Least Educated States

Source: Thinkstock

36. Idaho
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.6%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $41,343 (2nd lowest)
> Median household income: $51,807 (15th lowest)
> 2016 unemployment: 3.8% (11th lowest)

The share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher climbed by 1.6 percentage points in Idaho between 2015 and 2016, the most substantial improvement of any state. Despite the uptick, most states are home to a larger share of adults with a four-year college degree than Idaho. Only 27.6% of adults in Idaho have a bachelor’s degree compared to 31.3% of adults nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

37. Ohio
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.5%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $50,830 (19th highest)
> Median household income: $52,334 (17th lowest)
> 2016 unemployment: 4.9% (20th highest)

The typical high school graduate in Ohio earns only about $30,000 a year. Meanwhile, the median income among college graduates in the state is over $50,000 a year. Despite the apparent financial incentive, only 27.5% of adults in Ohio have a bachelor’s degree, less than in the vast majority of states. Nationwide, 31.3% of adults have earned a four-year college degree.

Source: Thinkstock

38. New Mexico
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.2%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $42,021 (3rd lowest)
> Median household income: $46,748 (7th lowest)
> 2016 unemployment: 6.7% (the highest)

Only 27.2% of adults in New Mexico have a bachelor’s degree — well below the 31.3% share of adults nationwide. At $46,748 a year, the median earnings of college-educated adults in New Mexico is lower than in all but six other states. Those without a college degree in New Mexico are at especially high risk of serious financial hardship. The median income among high school graduates in the state is only $25,622 a year, the lowest of any state in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

39. South Carolina
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.2%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $46,083 (14th lowest)
> Median household income: $49,501 (10th lowest)
> 2016 unemployment: 4.8% (25th highest)

South Carolinians are less likely than adults nationwide to have earned a bachelor’s degree. However, a college degree may not be necessary for several of the more common jobs across the state. Some 13.8% of South Carolina’s labor force works in manufacturing, and 12.7% work in retail, each among the largest such shares of any state. The state economy is also faring well. Only 4.8% of the labor force was out of a job in 2016, roughly in line with the 4.9% annual U.S. unemployment rate.

Source: Thinkstock

40. Wyoming
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 27.1%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $47,322 (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $59,882 (19th highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 5.3% (13th highest)

Some 93.2% of adults in Wyoming have a high school diploma, the largest share of any state in the country. In stark contrast, only 27.1% of adults in the state have a four-year college degree, one of the smaller such shares of any state. Many of the more common jobs in Wyoming do not likely require a college education. A resource rich state, 9.9% of Wyoming’s workforce are employed in agriculture and mining, and 6.5% work in transportation and warehousing, the largest and third largest such shares of any state, respectively.

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