Special Report

America's Least Educated Cities

The typical American worker with a bachelor’s degree earns about $26,000 more per year than a worker with no more than a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those with a college degree are also less likely to be unemployed. The advantages can extend beyond the financial benefits, as higher educational attainment is also linked to better health outcomes. 

Across the United States, 33.1% of the 25 and older population have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That share varies considerably from state to state and from city to city. 

To determine America’s least educated cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the percentage of adults 25 years and over with at least a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. In the 50 cities on this list, which can be found in 13 states, with more than half located in California, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate is no higher than 12%.

The differences in income and unemployment rate can also be seen in cities with the lowest bachelor’s degree attainment rates. Cities with smaller college-educated populations are more likely to struggle with high unemployment, and the majority of cities on this list have higher five-year average unemployment rates compared to the U.S rate of 4.4% over that time. Several cities have five-year average unemployment rates in excess of 10%.

Click here to see the least educated cities in the nation.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.