Higher Education Attainment In 50 States: A Data Visualization

Higher Education Attainment In 50 States: A Data Visualization
Only a bit more than four of ten Washingtonians have earned a two-year college degree or greater. But the state ranks 11th highest on that measure, nationally. Photo: nw.edu.

Below is an interactive data visualization with two different maps showing educational attainment in all 50 states. Using the maps, you will be able to see how the states rank against each other, and against national averages. The measures are percent of population with a two-year degree or more, and percent with a high school diploma or equivalent.

Here’s the backdrop. The demand for higher education is rapidly growing, both nationally and in Washington. The gap remains substantial between the needs of employers for skilled workers, and the stream of qualified graduates.

By 2023, more than three-quarters of projected jobs in Washington will require education beyond high school. Yet little more than four of ten Washingtonians has a two-year degree or higher, based on the most recently available five-year average.

State-by-state data show Washington is at the high end of the spectrum, but there is clearly still room for growth.

Interact with each of the two maps below to find out where your state stands on educational attainment.

Data notes: All the data provided is courtesy of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC). Associate’s degrees and higher are based on the combination of two ERFC data sets, via the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau. One is associate’s degrees only and the other is Bachelor’s degrees or higher, including Master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s. Combined, they account for the percentage of the population that has earned any two-year degree or higher, after high school.