Special Report

Most and Least Educated States

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10. Minnesota
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.3% (2019); 36.7% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $60,316 (11th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $47,050
> Unemployment: 3.2% (2019); 2.9% (2018)

Minnesota ranks among the 10 most educated states, with a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 37.3%. It also ranks third in high school diploma attainment, at 93.6% — 5 percentage points higher than the U.S. high school attainment rate. Unlike the majority of the most educated states, Minnesota’s unemployment rate increased slightly from 2018 to 2019. However, the state’s 3.2% unemployment rate in 2019 was still below the national unemployment rate of 3.7%.

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9. New Hampshire
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.6% (2019); 36.8% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $60,544 (9th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $47,392
> Unemployment: 2.5% (2019); 2.6% (2018)

New Hampshire’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 37.6% is higher than in all but eight other states nationwide. Adults in the state are also more likely than most to have an advanced degree. Among all residents 25 and older, 14.7% have a graduate or professional degree, compared with 12.8% of all Americans in the same age group.

As is often the case in well-educated states, incomes are generally higher than average in New Hampshire. The typical New Hampshire household earns $77,933 a year, over $12,000 more than the national median income of $65,712.

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8. New York
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.8% (2019); 37.2% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $62,699 (6th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $47,645
> Unemployment: 4.0% (2019); 4.1% (2018)

New York is home to the eighth highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate of all states, with 37.8% of adults holding at least a four-year degree. More so than Americans in most states, New Yorkers have a strong financial incentive to invest in a four-year education. The typical college graduate working in the state earns $62,699, well above the median earnings among all workers with a bachelor’s degree nationwide of $56,344.

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7. Vermont
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.7% (2019); 38.7% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $47,170 (7th lowest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $41,496
> Unemployment: 2.4% (2019); 2.5% (2018)

In Vermont, 93.1% of adults have a high school diploma and 38.7% have a bachelor’s degree — the eighth and seventh largest shares among states, respectively.

The state ranks among the best educated in the nation despite an apparent lack of well-paying jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. The typical worker with a bachelor’s degree in Vermont earns $47,170 a year, only about $6,000 more than the median earnings for workers of all education levels in the state. Meanwhile, nationwide, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $56,344, about $15,000 more than the median earnings for all workers.

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6. Virginia
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.6% (2019); 39.3% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $61,529 (8th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $46,873
> Unemployment: 2.8% (2019); 3.0% (2018)

Virginia is the sixth best educated state in the country and the second best educated in the South, trailing only Maryland. Nearly 40% of Virginia’s 25 and older residents have a bachelor’s degree compared with just 33.1% of Americans in the same age group nationwide.

Virginia appears to have many well-paying jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. The median earnings for college-educated workers is $61,529, well above the comparable median annual earnings of $56,344 across the U.S. as a whole.