America’s Most and Least Educated States

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26. North Dakota
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.7%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $50,270 (25th lowest)
> Median household income: $61,843 (18th highest)
> 2017 unemployment: 2.6% (2nd lowest)

In North Dakota, 30.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, less than the 32.0% national college attainment rate. While relatively few adults in North Dakota have a college degree, the state has a comparatively high concentration of high-paying opportunities for adults without a college education. A recent oil boom, which saw the annual production of crude oil in the state increase more than tenfold from 2006 to 2015, created a number of lucrative mining jobs that require just a high school diploma. Some 9.2% of workers in North Dakota are employed in the mining and agriculture sector, the second largest share of any state, and 7.9% are employed in construction, the fifth largest share. Overall, the median annual earnings for workers with just a high school education in North Dakota is $36,102, the highest such figure of any state.

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27. Wisconsin
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30.4%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $51,162 (22nd highest)
> Median household income: $59,305 (22nd highest)
> 2017 unemployment: 3.3% (tied — 10th lowest)

Some 30.4% of adults in Wisconsin have a bachelor’s degree, less than the 32.0% national share. The earning potential for individuals with a bachelor’s degree is far higher than for those with less education, and the typical U.S. worker with a college degree earns approximately $22,000 more than the typical worker with a high school education. This can help explain why incomes in Wisconsin are slightly lower than incomes nationwide. The typical household in Wisconsin earns $59,305 a year, slightly less than the national median household income of $60,336.

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28. Florida
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.7%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $45,651 (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $52,594 (12th lowest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.2% (tied — 24th lowest)

Educational attainment in Florida has improved in recent years. From 2016 to 2017, the share of adults with a high school diploma improved from 87.4% to 88.4%, the fourth largest increase of any state. Over the same period, the share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree increased 1.1 percentage points from 28.6% to 29.7%, also one of the largest increases in the country — yet still below the national college attainment rate of 32.0%.

One pull factor for college graduates moving to Florida may have been the state’s high concentration of advanced, high-paying industries. Some 7.7% of the workforce is employed in finance and insurance, and 13.1% in professional scientific, and management services, each the seventh largest share of any state. According to a November 2015 study by the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan, 80.9% of college graduates in Florida are from out-of-state, the fourth largest share in the country.

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29. Texas
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.6%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $54,211 (15th highest)
> Median household income: $59,206 (23rd highest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.3% (tied — 23rd highest)

Some 29.6% of adults in Texas have a bachelor’s degree, below the national average of 32.0%. The earnings potential for college graduates is far higher than for individuals with lower levels of education, and nationwide workers with a college degree earn approximately $22,000 more per year than workers with just a high school diploma. The low college attainment rate in Texas may partially contribute to the state’s low income level. The typical household in Texas earns $59,206 a year, slightly less than the national median household income of $60,336.

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30. Arizona
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 29.4%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $51,197 (21st highest)
> Median household income: $56,581 (23rd lowest)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.9% (tied — 9th highest)

Arizona adults are slightly less likely to have a college education than American adults overall. In the state, 29.4% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to the 32.0% of adults nationwide. One factor contributing to Arizona’s low college attainment rate may be the state’s unhealthy job market, which can deter college graduates from moving to the state. Arizona’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country at 4.9%, much greater than the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4%.