Thursday, November 12, 2020

Racial, ethnic disparities persist in rural education levels

Educational attainment rates for racial and ethnic minorities have improved over the past two decades, but large gaps persist for rural nonwhites. Rural Hispanics, Blacks, Native Americans and Alaska Natives were only half as likely as their white counterparts to have a bachelor's degree or higher in 2018, the most recent year of data available. That's according to a newly published study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

Among all rural residents 25 and older, "the percentage who had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher rose from 15% in 2000 to 20% in 2018. Conversely, the share of that population without a high school degree or equivalent dropped from 24% in 2000 to 13% in 2018," Tracey Farrigan reports. "Among racial and ethnic groups in rural America, Hispanics continued to have the highest percentage (35 percent) without a high school degree, despite significant gains in high school and higher educational attainment rates between 2000 and 2018.

Meanwhile, African Americans "had the largest decrease (20 percentage points) of rural individuals without a high school degree," Farrigan writes. "This change eliminated the gap between the shares of Blacks/African Americans and Whites who had graduated from high school but had not completed a bachelor’s degree. Nevertheless, the share of Blacks without a high school degree remained nearly double that of whites in 2018."

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