Special Report

This Is the Least Educated Metro Area in Texas

College enrollment has declined steadily in the United States in recent years. With rising tuition costs and surging student debt, enrollment has fallen by an average of nearly 2% a year since 2010. While four years of higher education may not be for everyone, Americans without a bachelor’s degree tend to be far more limited in their career opportunities, job security, and earning potential.

Nationwide, an estimated 33.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in nearly every state, there is at least one metro area where the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is well below the national average.

In the Odessa metro area, located in Texas, only 15.1% of the adult population have a bachelor’s degree, the smallest share of any metro area in the state. Meanwhile, across Texas, 30.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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. The Odessa metro area, however, is an exception. The typical area household earns $67,205 per year, compared to the median household income across Texas of $64,034.

All data in this story are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

 

Least educated metro area Adults with a bachelor’s degree (%) Adults with a bachelor’s degree, statewide (%) Median household income ($) Median household income, statewide ($)
Alabama: Gadsden 17.2 26.3 41,447 51,734
Alaska: Anchorage 33.1 30.2 80,676 75,463
Arizona: Lake Havasu City-Kingman 13.5 30.2 50,179 62,055
Arkansas: Pine Bluff 16.4 23.3 41,541 48,952
California: Visalia 13.6 35.0 57,692 80,440
Colorado: Pueblo 23.4 42.7 51,276 77,127
Connecticut: Norwich-New London 33.3 39.8 75,633 78,833
Delaware: Dover 24.5 33.2 58,001 70,176
Florida: Sebring-Avon Park 16.7 30.7 48,698 59,227
Georgia: Dalton 15.0 32.5 51,967 61,980
Hawaii: Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina 27.7 33.6 80,754 83,102
Idaho: Twin Falls 20.0 28.7 56,667 60,999
Illinois: Danville 12.1 35.8 43,111 69,187
Indiana: Michigan City-La Porte 18.0 26.9 56,019 57,603
Iowa: Sioux City 22.6 29.3 60,132 61,691
Kansas: Topeka 29.1 34.0 59,567 62,087
Kentucky: Elizabethtown-Fort Knox 21.4 25.1 55,246 52,295
Louisiana: Houma-Thibodaux 16.3 25.0 49,874 51,073
Maine: Lewiston-Auburn 25.1 33.2 63,813 58,924
Maryland: Cumberland 19.1 40.9 49,729 86,738
Massachusetts: Pittsfield 33.9 45.0 58,895 85,843
Michigan: Battle Creek 20.2 30.0 49,055 59,584
Minnesota: St. Cloud 26.6 37.3 66,076 74,593
Mississippi: Gulfport-Biloxi 22.7 22.3 50,642 45,792
Missouri: St. Joseph 20.0 30.2 50,425 57,409
Montana: Great Falls 25.6 33.6 51,227 57,153
Nebraska: Grand Island 21.0 33.2 55,907 63,229
Nevada: Carson City 21.3 25.7 57,270 63,276
New Hampshire: Manchester-Nashua 37.8 37.6 83,626 77,933
New Jersey: Vineland-Bridgeton 16.1 41.2 54,587 85,751
New Mexico: Farmington 14.4 27.7 44,321 51,945
New York: Watertown-Fort Drum 22.4 37.8 53,917 72,108
North Carolina: Rocky Mount 17.4 32.3 46,466 57,341
North Dakota: Bismarck 33.4 30.4 70,979 64,577
Ohio: Springfield 16.2 29.3 50,128 58,642
Oklahoma: Lawton 20.5 26.2 51,332 54,449
Oregon: Grants Pass 16.8 34.5 47,573 67,058
Pennsylvania: Johnstown 20.6 32.3 49,076 63,463
Rhode Island: Providence-Warwick 33.2 34.8 70,967 71,169
South Carolina: Sumter 20.1 29.6 49,263 56,227
South Dakota: Rapid City 30.8 29.7 58,361 59,533
Tennessee: Morristown 19.3 28.7 47,326 56,071
Texas: Odessa 15.1 30.8 67,205 64,034
Utah: St. George 27.3 34.8 63,595 75,780
Vermont: Burlington-South Burlington 44.6 38.7 74,909 63,001
Virginia: Staunton 24.2 39.6 57,844 76,456
Washington: Longview 15.3 37.0 55,497 78,687
West Virginia: Weirton-Steubenville 17.5 21.1 49,510 48,850
Wisconsin: Janesville-Beloit 23.2 31.3 61,243 64,168
Wyoming: Casper 20.7 29.1 65,034 65,003