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A recent data visualization dove into educational attainment data to map out the percentage of the population in each U.S. state with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Left Behind in the Mountain States
States like West Virginia, Mississippi, and Kentucky were at the bottom of the list. In these states, less than 27% of the population has completed a four-year degree program. With fewer adults earning degrees, the mountain states lag in many socioeconomic realms.
The Coveted Coastal Cities
In contrast, metropolitan regions on the coasts boast high rates of people holding bachelor’s degrees. In the nation’s capital, 63% of residents have a college education. Up north, half the population in progressive states like Massachusetts and Maryland also hold degrees.
Brain Drain Away from the Heartland
Stuck in the middle, heartland states like Iowa and Missouri fall right around the 30% mark for degree holders. Surrounded by lower-performing neighbors, retaining ambitious residents is challenging for these states.
Rust Belt Struggles
Even states with reputable public university systems, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, struggle to keep college grads around after graduation. These Rust Belt states have declined economically as blue-collar industries have dried up.
The Lure of the West
On the other hand, western states like Colorado and California have become magnets for college-educated migrants. Colorado is a rising star, with over 44% of the population holding degrees.
The Value of a College Degree
“Anyone planning on a career in corporate America should grab their Bachelor’s. We make HR software, and there’s a recruiting module. Some 77% of the time, per our analytics, recruiters using our suite filter applications to ‘Bachelor’s degree and above.’”
Politics and Education Go Hand in Hand
“If you take major metro areas from almost every state, you probably have Mississippi. For some reason, college education and more left-leaning politics seem to go hand-in-hand.”
Educated People Follow Opportunity
“Many educated people have brain-drained away from regressive places toward progressive places like CO. CO has been making a lot of great legislation that attracts smart people.”
Higher Education Challenges
Higher education in the United States faces many challenges, from financial strain on universities to issues of access and adaptability in a rapidly changing educational landscape. Understanding these challenges is crucial to addressing disparities in educational attainment among states.
The Great Divide
In examining bachelor’s degree attainment data across the 50 states, stark divides emerge. Coastal hubs boast highly educated populations, while rural regions lag.
Policies and Human Capital
Progressive policies have a symbiotic relationship with human capital. The educational gap will likely continue growing as our economy increasingly favors skilled workers.
Bachelor’s Degree and Jobs
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum for access to lucrative white-collar careers. For individuals and policymakers alike, these trends pose thorny questions about equality of opportunity.
The Impact on Local Communities
Unequal educational attainment levels among states have far-reaching effects on local communities. These disparities influence healthcare quality, access to social services, and even the cultural vitality of regions, shaping the everyday lives of residents. Understanding these impacts is essential for crafting effective policies.
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