|USDA graphic: Educational attainment in rural and urban|
areas, 2000 and 2015; click on image for a larger version
The rural-urban gap in college degrees has increased, with 33 percent in urban areas in 2015 having a bachelor's degree or higher, up from 26 percent in 2000, an increase of seven percent, compared to the four percent increase in rural areas. Rural areas are closing the gap among residents with a less than a high school diploma, with urban areas now at 13 percent, only two percent better than rural areas.
The report found that economic outcomes play a role in education, with rural counties with low education levels having the worst economic outcomes. The report says, "In 2011-2015, rural low-education counties averaged poverty rates of 24 percent, versus 16 percent for all other rural counties. Furthermore, 40 percent of rural low-education counties are also persistent-poverty counties, with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher consistently since 1980. In addition to higher poverty rates, rural counties with low levels of educational attainment tend to have high unemployment rates." (USDA map: Correlation between low education and poverty in rural counties, 2011-15; click on image for a larger version)