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: 28.9%
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders: $52,967 (12th highest)
> Median household income: $56,565 (25th highest)
> 2016 unemployment: 4.6% (23rd lowest)
Some 28.9% of adults in Texas have a bachelor’s degree, up about half a percentage point from the previous year. Despite the improvement, most states are home to a larger share of college educated adults.
The Lone Star State is also home to a relatively large share of adults without a high school diploma. Only 82.9% of Texans 25 and older have completed high school, the second smallest share of any state. Despite low educational attainment rates, the typical Texas household earns $56,565 a year, only slightly less than the $57,617 median income nationwide.
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.