Monday, October 18, 2010

Rural America remains short of college degrees

While more Americans than ever have college degrees, the geographic distribution of college graduates remains unequal and leaves rural areas at a disadvantage. "The clustering of people with education is creating greater inequality in regional incomes and unemployment," Roberto Gallardo and Bill Bishop report for the Daily Yonder. "The places with a high percentage of educated adults do better economically than the counties with low proportions of adults with BA degrees. They have higher incomes and lower unemployment." That trend holds true for rural areas where per capita wages increase with education.

In rural America, "the top fifth of counties based on college education have an average personal income of $36,135," Gallardo and Bishop write. "The bottom fifth of rural counties, based on college education, have an average income of $26,371." Rural America also remains behind urban areas in terms of college degrees. In 1990, 23 percent of urban adults had a college degree, compared to 12.4 percent of rural adults. By 2009, the urban percentage was 29.9, and the rural percentage was only 16.8.

The Yonder compared the 204 counties with the highest percentage of adults with BA degrees with the 204 with the smallest percentage. "The most educated counties had higher incomes than the least educated counties ($37,283 versus $24,605); lower unemployment in July of this year (7.5% versus 12.2%); and a lower poverty rate (12.5% versus 21.1%)," Gallardo and Bishop write. The education gap also has important health implications; in 2000 a college-educated 25-year-old could expect to live seven years longer than less education peers, the Yonder reports. (Read more) (Yonder map)

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