America’s Most and Least Educated States

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21. Nebraska
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.7%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $50,138 (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $59,970 (21st highest)
> 2017 unemployment: 2.9% (5th lowest)

While the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree in Nebraska climbed from 30.2% in 2015 to 31.4% in 2016, the increase was much smaller between 2016 and 2017. Today, 31.7% of adults in Nebraska have a bachelor’s degree, just below the national college attainment rate of 32.0%. States with higher educational attainment tend to report higher incomes. While the college attainment rate in Nebraska remained statistically stagnant over the past year, incomes in the the state increased substantially. The typical household in Nebraska earned $59,970 in 2017, up $1,961 from 2016 — the ninth largest income increase nationwide. Nebraska also has has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.9%, the fifth lowest unemployment rate of all states.

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22. Delaware
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.5%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $57,157 (9th highest)
> Median household income: $62,852 (17th highest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.6% (tied — 17th highest)

Delaware is one of several states without a statistically significant change in educational attainment over the last year. The share of adults with a bachelor’s degree rose only slightly from 2016 to 2017, from 31.0% to 31.5%. Education is one of the primary determinants of wealth, and the state’s median annual household income also remained relatively stagnant, creeping up about $250 from $62,596 to $62,852. Delaware’s college attainment rate and median household income remain roughly in line with the national figures of 32.0% and $60,336.

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23. Pennsylvania
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.4%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $51,950 (17th highest)
> Median household income: $59,195 (24th highest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.9% (tied — 9th highest)

The share of adults with a bachelor’s degree increased in Pennsylvania over the last five years, from 28.7% in 2013 to 31.4% in 2017. Workers with at least a four-year college degree are more likely to hold more advanced, high-paying jobs than workers who just have a high school diploma. As college attainment rose in Pennsylvania, so did the median household income, jumping from $54,811 in 2013 to $59,195 in 2017.

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24. North Carolina
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 31.3%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $50,105 (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $52,752 (13th lowest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.6% (tied — 17th highest)

Over the past five years, educational attainment has risen in North Carolina as more college graduates flocked to the state. The state’s population rose by 4.3% from 2013 to 2017, one of the fastest percentage increases of any state. The share of adults with a bachelor’s degree rose from 28.4% in 2013 to 31.3% in 2017, the 10th largest increase nationwide. College graduates are more likely to have high-paying jobs and report higher incomes overall. Over the same period, the median household income in North Carolina rose from $48,344 in 2013 to $52,752 in 2017.

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25. Georgia
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.9%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $51,915 (18th highest)
> Median household income: $56,183 (19th lowest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.7% (tied — 14th highest)

The share of adults in Georgia who have at least a four-year college degree has not changed drastically in the past year, growing from 30.5% in 2016 to 30.9% in 2017, a mere 0.4 percentage-point increase. Individuals with higher educational attainment are typically more well off financially than those who have not received a college-level education. The increase in college attainment in Georgia over the past year may have partially contributed to income growth in the state. From 2016 to 2017, the median household income in Georgia rose $1,457 from $54,726 to $56,183. Nationwide, the median household income rose $1,516 from $58,820 to $60,336.