The Most Educated City in Every State

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16. Kansas
> Most educated city: Lawrence
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 52.0%
> Median household income: $56,345
> Unemployment rate: 3.2%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 6

Lawrence is the most educated metro area in Kansas and the fifth-most educated metro area in the nation as 52% of its adult residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. As might be expected, the city also has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country.

Despite the high education levels, Lawrence still struggles with poverty. The city’s poverty rate of 17.1% is 5 percentage points higher than the state level. Somewhat paradoxically, Lawrence has one of the lowest food stamp or SNAP benefit recipiency rates in the United States.

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17. Kentucky
> Most educated city: Lexington-Fayette
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 37.2%
> Median household income: $53,769
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 19

Adults with a college degree are less susceptible to economic downturns and the threat of joblessness. With a 4.1% unemployment rate, Lexington-Fayette is the only metro area in Kentucky where the jobless rate falls below the comparable 4.4% U.S. figure. The highly educated population partially explains the area’s relatively strong economy. An estimated 37.2% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest share of any metro area in the state and well above the comparable share of adults across Kentucky of 23.4%.

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18. Louisiana
> Most educated city: New Orleans-Metairie
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 29.4%
> Median household income: $48,804
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 31

One of the least educated states in the country, Louisiana’s 23.4% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is well below the corresponding 31.3% nationwide rate. Even in New Orleans, the most educated metro area in the state, only 29.4% adults have earned a four-year college degree.

In New Orleans, an adult with a college education typically earns about $16,000 more than adults with only a high school education. Indeed, higher incomes among the metro area’s relatively large share of college educated adults may explain why serious financial hardship is less common in New Orleans than in any of Louisiana’s eight other metro areas. An estimated 17% of New Orleans residents live in poverty compared to 20.2% of people across the state.

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19. Maine
> Most educated city: Portland-South Portland
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 39.1%
> Median household income: $63,422
> Unemployment rate: 2.8%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 17

Portland-South Portland does not have much competition with only two other metropolitan areas in the state. Still, it is the most educated city in Maine. And the area’s high educational attainment has likely helped it achieve relative financial prosperity.

In Portland, 39.1% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, well above Maine’s 30.1% bachelor’s degree attainment rate. Portland’s median household income of $63,422 a year is also well above the state figure of $53,079 and the national figure of $57,617. The metro area’s poverty rate of 9.1% is also one of the lowest among U.S. metro areas.

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20. Maryland
> Most educated city: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson
> Pct. of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 39.5%
> Median household income: $76,788
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 50

College educated adults in Maryland tend to live outside of major metropolitan areas. Some 39.5% of adults in the Baltimore metro area have a bachelor’s degree, roughly in line with the share of adults across Maryland, but far greater than the comparable share in any of the state’s other four metro areas. The higher educational attainment rate in the Baltimore metro area is likely due in part to the concentration of educational institutions in the area. There are 50 colleges and universities throughout Baltimore-Columbia-Towson — more than five times the number in any other Maryland metro area.