Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rural Americans are getting more education but still lag behind metro areas, especially in college degrees

Rural Americans are increasingly finishing high school and pursuing college degrees, but still significantly trail metro areas in earning degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, which did a data comparison of people ages 25 and older between the 2000 Census and the 2007-11 American Community Survey, the Census Bureau's constant polling operation, reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter.

In 2000, 23.5 percent of rural Americans didn't have a high-school diploma. That dropped to 17.5 percent in 2010 and 17 percent in 2011, and the number with a high school diploma or equivalent rose from 35.9 percent to 37 percent in 2011.

Rural residents with at least a two-year degree went from 25.5 percent in 2000 to 29 percent in 2011. Those with a bachelor's degree or higher went from 15.1 percent in 2000 to 17.5 percent in 2010, but dropped to 17 percent in 2011.

In metropolitan areas, only 14 percent have less than a high school diploma, 27 percent have a diploma or equivalent, 29 percent have some sort of degree, and 30 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher. Agri-Pulse is subscription-only, but offers a free trial here.

Massachusetts has the highest rate of college degrees for rural residents 25 and older at 42.3 percent, according to the Economic Research Service. They were followed by Vermont with 31.3 percent and New Hampshire at 30.4 percent. The lowest rate was in Tennessee, at 13.4 percent, followed by Louisiana and Kentucky at 13.7, percent and Arkansas and West Virginia at 13.8 percent. For a state-by-state and county-by-county list of college graduates click here.

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