Special Report

The Least Educated City in Every State

Methodology

To determine the least educated city in every state, 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.

We used census “place” geographies — a category that includes 29,573 incorporated legal entities and census-designated statistical entities. Of those, 29,319 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states, while the rest were in the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico.

We defined cities based on a population threshold — having more than 25,000 people — and 1,774 of the places fell within this threshold.

Cities were then excluded if bachelor’s degree or higher attainment rates were not available in the 2019 ACS, if the city’s 25 and older population was less than 1,000, or if the sampling error associated with a city’s data was deemed too high.

The sampling error was defined as too high if the coefficient of variation — a statistical assessment of how reliable an estimate is — for a city’s bachelor’s or higher attainment rate was above 15% and greater than two standard deviations above the mean CV for all cities’ bachelor’s degree or higher attainment rate. We similarly excluded cities that had a sampling error too high for their 25 and over population estimates, using the same definition.

The remaining 1,770 places were ranked within their state based on the share of adults 25 years and over with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Additional information on the median earnings of adults 25 and over holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, median earnings of adults 25 and over with all levels of educational attainment, unemployment rates for the 25-64-year-old population that have at least a bachelor’s degree, and unemployment rates for the 25-64-year-old population with all educational attainment levels are also five-year estimates from the 2019 ACS.

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