Special Report

The Most and Least Educated States

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5. Connecticut
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.8% (2019); 39.6% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $64,143 (5th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $50,788
> Unemployment: 3.7% (2019); 4.1% (2018)

Only four states are home to a larger share of adults with a bachelor’s degree than Connecticut. States with larger college-educated populations tend to have higher incomes overall, and Connecticut is no exception. The typical household in the state earns $78,833 per year, about $13,000 more than what the typical American household earns annually.

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4. Maryland
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 40.9% (2019); 40.8% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $65,193 (3rd highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $52,011
> Unemployment: 3.6% (2019); 3.9% (2018)

Maryland is one of only four states where more than 40% of 25 and older residents have a bachelor’s degree. The state’s 40.9% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is the highest in the South and fourth highest in the country.

Maryland appears to have many well-paying jobs that require a postsecondary education. The median salary for college-educated workers in the state is $65,193, well above the comparable median earnings of $56,344 across the U.S. as a whole.

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3. New Jersey
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 41.2% (2019); 40.8% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $67,038 (the highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $51,786
> Unemployment: 3.6% (2019); 4.1% (2018)

New Jersey is the third most educated state in the country, with 41.2% of 25 and older residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Most of the state’s college-educated residents earn over $67,000 per year — the highest median earnings for adults with a bachelor’s degree of any state, and over $10,000 higher than the comparable U.S. median.

New Jersey also ranks among the 10 states with the highest advanced degree attainment rate, with 16.1% of adults in New Jersey holding either a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. Nationwide, 12.8% of Americans 25 and older have an advanced degree.

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2. Colorado
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 42.7% (2019); 41.7% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $58,229 (12th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $46,887
> Unemployment: 2.8% (2019); 3.2% (2018)

In Colorado, 42.7% of residents 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, the second largest share of any state and by far the largest share in the region. For context, Washington ranks as the second best educated state in the Western U.S. with a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 37.0%.

The job market for college-educated workers in Colorado likely encourages many to pursue a postsecondary education. The typical worker with a bachelor’s degree in the state earns $58,229 per year, about $2,000 more than the median annual income for workers with a college degree nationwide.

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1. Massachusetts
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 45.0% (2019); 44.5% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $65,373 (2nd highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $52,470
> Unemployment: 2.9% (2019); 3.4% (2018)

Massachusetts ranks as the best educated state in the country. Of all state residents 25 and older, 45.0% have a bachelor’s degree — well above the comparable 33.1% bachelor’s degree attainment rate nationwide.

The high educational attainment in Massachusetts is likely due in part to the state’s job market. Well-paying jobs for those with a college education appear common in Massachusetts. The typical working college degree holder in the state earns $65,373 annually, far more than the $56,344 the typical working, college-educated American worker earns per year.