The Department of Education, the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce and the Lumina Foundation all predict that around 65 percent of all jobs in the United States will require some post-secondary education by 2020.
With just 17 months until 2020, the U.S. labor force will likely fall short. According to most recent figures from the U.S. Census, just 33.4 percent of Americans over the age of 25 currently have a college degree. While this figure is higher than previous decades, it leaves the United States falling behind other nations.
But some American cities are doing better than others in the race to meet the needs of the future economy. WalletHub analyzed data from the 150 largest metropolitan areas across the United States in order to determine which cities had the the most and least educated populations.
To build the list, WalletHub considered 11 metrics, including educational attainment of citizens over the age of 25, quality of public schools and educational equality among citizens.
Here are the 10 most educated places in the United States:
Total score: 65.94
Educational attainment ranking: 8
Quality and equality of education ranking: 140
Even though the metro area including Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk Connecticut ranked highly on WalletHub's list, they also found that the area suffers from one of the largest racial education gaps in the country.
Total score: 66.13
Educational attainment ranking: 10
Quality and equality of education ranking: 22
The giant and widely-respected University of Washington is located in Seattle, giving this area one of the highest university quality rankings.
Total score: 66.14
Educational attainment ranking: 15
Quality and equality of education ranking: 5
The University of Texas system's flagship school, UT Austin, is located in this area. UT Austin has a total enrollment of over 51,000 students.
Total score: 67.71
Educational attainment ranking: 6
Quality and equality of education ranking: 114
Total score: 69.47
Educational attainment ranking: 4
Quality and equality of education ranking: 109
According to WalletHub, Madison, Wisconsin has the second highest percentage of high school diploma holders, just behind Ann Arbor.
Total score: 71.07
Educational attainment ranking: 7
Quality and equality of education ranking: 21
Tech hub San Francisco is among the top five cities for percentage of associate degree and bachelor's degree holders.
Total score: 72.77
Educational attainment ranking: 5
Quality and equality of education ranking: 12
Thanks to UNC Chapel Hill, this metro area ranked third for average university quality.
Total score: 75.14
Educational attainment ranking: 3
Quality and equality of education ranking: 6
This area, otherwise known as Silicon Valley, has one of the highest percentage of graduate degree holders.
Total score: 77.39
Educational attainment ranking: 2
Quality and equality of education ranking: 36
Over half of D.C. residents have a post-secondary degree, compared to just 34.2 percent across the country.
Total score: 92.57
Educational attainment ranking: 1
Quality and equality of education ranking: 3
WalletHub found that Ann Arbor has the highest percentage of citizens with high school diplomas, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees.
Here are the 10 least educated places in the United States:
Total score: 26.32
Educational attainment ranking: 135
Quality and equality of education ranking: 145
The largest industries in Ocala, Forida are healthcare and social assistance, retail and accommodation and food service according to Data USA.
Total score: 25.54
Educational attainment ranking: 145
Quality and equality of education ranking: 53
Total score: 24.69
Educational attainment ranking: 144
Quality and equality of education ranking: 111
According to Data USA the largest university in Lodi, California is San Joaquin Delta College.
Total score: 22.98
Educational attainment ranking: 142
Quality and equality of education ranking: 141
Salinas California has a poverty rate of almost 19 percent.
Total score: 22.29
Educational attainment ranking: 143
Quality and equality of education ranking: 143
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest industry in this western North Carolina region is manufacturing.
Total score: 20.57
Educational attainment ranking: 146
Quality and equality of education ranking: 138
Modesto is just a 90-minute drive from San Francisco, but received low rankings for the quality of universities in the area.
Total score: 16.28
Educational attainment ranking: 147
Quality and equality of education ranking: 135
Bakersfield, California, was tied for the lowest average university quality.
Total score: 11.32
Educational attainment ranking: 150
Quality and equality of education ranking: 1
The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area was found to have the lowest percentage of citizens with a high school diploma.
Total score: 8.75
Educational attainment ranking: 149
Quality and equality of education ranking: 96
WalletHub found that the metro area of Brownsville-Harlingen had the second lowest percentage of citizens who have graduated from high school.
Total score: 6.87
Educational attainment ranking: 148
Quality and equality of education ranking: 148
According to WalletHub, the Visalia-Porterville area has among the lowest percentages of high school diploma holders, associate's degree holders and bachelor's degree holders.
Ann Arbor, Michigan ranks as the most educated city in the United States. The college town has a population of 121,477 and is home to the University of Michigan. Across the board, WalletHub found that Ann Arbor has the the highest percentage of citizens with high school degrees, associates degrees, bachelor's degrees and graduate degrees.
Most of the top 10 most educated cities boast large public universities. Chapel Hill, North Carolina for example, is home to the University of North Carolina (UNC), which was ranked one of the 20 best value colleges of 2019. According to Fiske, UNC is “one of only two public universities in the nation that guarantees to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students.”
Programs like these help increase access to education for all citizens, regardless of income, and can lead to a highly educated population.
While the most educated cities were distributed across the country, six of the 10 of the least educated cities were in California. According to Cassandra Guarino, Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of California at Riverside, the solution to increasing education rates among a city's residents is an emphasis on equality.
“Families in poverty need support in myriad ways to keep children healthy, prepared to learn and supported at home,” she tells WalletHub. “Resources must be distributed more heavily to schools in need and that means highly competent teachers and administrators as well as funding. Students need funding support and opportunities to attend college and they need to know about these opportunities early enough to make the right choices in high school.”
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