Detailed Findings and Methodology
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the more college graduates a metropolitan area has, the higher its median household income tends to be. Of the 50 metro areas on this list, 39 have a higher median household income than their respective state as a whole.
In many cases, a state’s most educated city, determined by the rate of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, is also an education hub — home to schools with enrollment figures in the tens of thousands. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, home to the University of Illinois, Austin, Texas, home to the University of Texas, and Morgantown, West Virginia, and its West Virginia University, are three such examples. The list is full other iconic college towns as well, including Boston, Massachusetts, Ithaca, New York, and Burlington, Vermont.
A disproportionately large share of metro areas on this list are also state capitals. Typically, relatively large shares of labor forces in capital cities work in state government jobs — which often require a college degree. More than one on every three metro areas on this list are also the capital of their respective state.
Many of those that are not state capitals are other large metropolitan areas able to provide lots of work opportunities to educated job seekers.
To identify the most educated cities in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentages of metro area adults who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in every state. The college attainment rate, along with poverty, income, and high school attainment rates, as well as the percentage of households receiving SNAP benefits for metro areas and for states all came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey. Shares of each metro’s workforce employed in particular industries came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment figures are also from the BLS and are for August, 2017. The number of post-secondary institutions in each metropolitan area came from the U.S. Department of Education. Post-secondary institutions include four-year universities and colleges, as well as technical institutes and trade academies. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area, which spans the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia was excluded from the ranking.
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