Special Report

The Most Educated City in Every State

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Kansas: Lawrence
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 47.3%
> Median household income: $55,646
> Unemployment rate: 3.0%
> Number of colleges and universities: 6

Lawrence’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 47.3% is highest in the state. The high educational attainment is bolstered in large part by the presence of the University of Kansas. The largest higher education institution in the state, the university’s Lawrence campus, which enrolls about 5,840 graduate students, awarded nearly 6,700 degrees in 2015.

As is the case in many metro areas on this list, unemployment is low in Lawrence. Just 3.0% of workers in the metro area are out of a job, compared to unemployment rates of 3.4% across the state and 3.9% across the country.

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Kentucky: Lexington-Fayette
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 37.5%
> Median household income: $58,069
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%
> Number of colleges and universities: 19

Kentucky is one of the least educated states in country — it is one of only half a dozen states where fewer than one in four adults have a bachelor’s degree. Not all parts of the state, however, have low-educational attainment. In the Lexington-Fayette metro area, 37.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the largest share of any metro area in the state and well above the 32.0% share of American adults nationwide.

Well-educated areas often have strong job markets and relatively high incomes. Lexington-Fayette’s unemployment rate of 3.5% is the lowest of any metro area in the state, and the median annual household income of $58,069 is the highest.

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Louisiana: New Orleans-Metairie
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.5%
> Median household income: $50,528
> Unemployment rate: 4.9%
> Number of colleges and universities: 31

With a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 23.8%, Louisiana has one of the least educated populations. It is also one of only three states where the bachelor’s degree attainment rate in all metro areas is below 30%. Even in New Orleans, the most educated metro area in the state, just 29.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, well below the 32.0% of adults nationwide.

The low bachelor’s degree attainment rate may partially explain some other poor economic measures in New Orleans. For example, the metro area’s unemployment rate of 4.9% and poverty rate of 18.6% are well above the respective nationwide rates of 3.9% and 13.4%.

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Maine: Portland-South Portland
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.5%
> Median household income: $68,570
> Unemployment rate: 2.6%
> Number of colleges and universities: 17

Portland is home to the highest concentration of college educated adults in Maine. The metro area’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 40.5% well exceeds the comparable rate of 29.1% in Bangor, the second best educated metro area in the state. Portland-South Portland also has the greatest concentration of wealth in the state. Some 6.4% of area household earn at least $200,000 a year, double the 3.2% of households in Bangor, the second wealthiest metro area in the state.

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Maryland: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.5%
> Median household income: $77,394
> Unemployment rate: 4.3%
> Number of colleges and universities: 50

Maryland is a rare example of a state where non-urban areas have higher educational attainment rates than cities. Each of the state’s five metro areas has a lower bachelor’s degree attainment rate than the 39.7% state rate. In Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, the most educated metro area in the state, 39.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The area’s high bachelor’s degree attainment rate is bolstered by a concentration of colleges and research universities. The metro area’s 50 post secondary institutions awarded over 44,000 degrees in 2015 and include Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, and University of Maryland – Baltimore County.

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