Special Report

The Most Educated City in Every State

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Massachusetts: Boston-Cambridge-Newton
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 49.1% (state: 44.5%)
> Median household income: $88,711 (state: $79,835)
> July unemployment: 2.6% (state: 2.9%)
> Number of college and universities: 122

Boston is the most educated metro area in the most educated state. Across Massachusetts, a staggering 44.5% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the 32.6% share of adults nationwide. In the Boston metro area, educational attainment is even higher, with 49.1% of adults holding at least a four-year college degree.

As is often the case in the metro areas on this list, Boston has a high concentration of colleges and universities. The greater Boston metro area encompasses over 100 schools, including Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, and Northeastern University.

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Michigan: Ann Arbor
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 56.4% (state: 29.6%)
> Median household income: $71,860 (state: $56,697)
> July unemployment: 3.0% (state: 4.3%)
> Number of college and universities: 5

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a quintessential American college town. As is the case in metro areas with major research universities, Ann Arbor residents are far more likely than most Americans to have a bachelor’s degree. The metro area is one of only nine nationwide in which over half of all adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Better-educated adults have access to a broader range of high-paying jobs, and as a result, better-educated areas typically have higher median household incomes. In Ann Arbor, the typical household has an income of $71,860 a year, well above the $56,697 median income across Michigan as a whole.

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Minnesota: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.6% (state: 36.7%)
> Median household income: $79,578 (state: $70,315)
> July unemployment: 3.0% (state: 3.4%)
> Number of college and universities: 66

The Twin Cities have a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 42.6%, the highest of any metro area in Minnesota. Adults with a four-year college degree are more likely to have secure, high-paying jobs than those with lower educational attainment — and as a result, they are less likely to face serious financial hardship. The Twin Cities metro area has a poverty rate of just 8.5%, below the 9.6% state poverty rate and lower than the vast majority of the nearly 400 metro areas nationwide.

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Mississippi: Jackson
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.6% (state: 23.2%)
> Median household income: $55,700 (state: $44,717)
> July unemployment: 4.4% (state: 5.1%)
> Number of college and universities: 21

Mississippi has nearly the lowest educational attainment rate of any state. Just 23.2% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the national bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 32.6%. In Jackson, the state capital and best-educated metro area in the state, 32.6% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, in line with the comparable national rate.

As is often the case in other states, Mississippi’s best-educated city has a healthier job market than much of the rest of the state. In Jackson, 4.4% of the workforce is unemployed, compared to 5.1% of the workforce across Mississippi.

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Missouri: Columbia
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 48.4% (state: 29.5%)
> Median household income: $54,356 (state: $54,478)
> July unemployment: 2.4% (state: 3.3%)
> Number of college and universities: 9

Columbia is home to the University of Missouri, the state’s flagship university and largest college by enrollment, as well as eight other higher learning institutions. This is likely contributing to Columbia’s high bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 48.4% — well beyond the state rate of less than 30%. It is also more than 10 percentage points higher than the share at any other metro area in Missouri.

The high level of education in Columbia means many workers likely are attractive candidates for a wide variety of jobs. This partially explains the area’s unemployment rate of just 2.4%, well below the national rate and one of the lowest of any metro area in the country.

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