The average cost of a college education in the United States is $35,720 a year — three times higher than it was two decades ago. While rising tuition costs are discouraging many Americans from enrolling, a college education is an investment that can increase access to career opportunities, improve job security, and raise earning potential.
Nationwide, an estimated 32.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in every state, there is at least one town where the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is well below the national average.
Using education data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the least educated town in every state. For the purposes of this story, towns are defined as any place covered by the census within the 50 states and Washington D.C. with at least 1,000 people and less than 25,000 people.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among adults with a four-year college education was 5.5% 2020. Meanwhile, the jobless rate among those with no more than a high school diploma was 9.0%. In all but seven towns on this list, the five-year average unemployment rate among the 25 to 64-year-old population is higher than the comparable rate across the state as a whole.
In addition to being better protected from unemployment, Americans with a bachelor’s degree also tend to have higher salaries. The average weekly wage for a college-educated worker in the United States is about 67% higher than it is for those with no more than a high school diploma — and in places with lower educational attainment, incomes also tend to be lower than average. In nearly every town on this list, the typical household earns less in a year than the statewide median household income.