With millions of Americans saddled with seemingly insurmountable levels of student debt, some are calling into question the practicality of obtaining a four-year college degree. Still, the share of Americans who have earned a bachelor’s degree rose last year. As of 2016, 31.3% of Americans age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher — up from 30.6% the previous year and 29.1% in 2012.
Better educated populations tend to benefit from a range of positive socioeconomic outcomes. American adults with a bachelor’s degree generally earn higher incomes, are less susceptible to serious financial hardship, and are more desirable candidates for employers.
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.9%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $51,136 (17th highest)
> Median household income: $65,685 (12th highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 3.3% (7th lowest)
Adults with college degrees are more likely to have higher paying jobs than those with only a high school diploma. In Colorado, 39.9% of the adults age 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the 31.3% share of American adults. Partially as a result, the typical Colorado household earns $65,685 a year, well above the $57,617 the typical American household earns.
24/7 Wall St. ranked each state by the share of adults 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree. In the most educated state, 42.7% of adults have a four-year college degree, more than double the share of 20.8% in the least educated state.
Editor’s note: Due to a fact-checking error, Idaho was incorrectly referred to as Iowa in a previous version of this article. This error has been corrected.