The percentage of rural residents who have completed high school and some college increased between 2000 and 2014, although educational attainment levels remain lower for rural minority residents, according to a recent report.
The report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture examines rates of rural employment, poverty, and education levels. Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of rural adults with a four-year college degree increased by 4 percentage points, to 25 percent, while the percentage of rural residents without a high school diploma or its equivalent decreased by 9 percentage points, to 15 percent. Although this rate is still higher than the rate for urban areas (13 percent), the report notes that the percentage of rural adults who have an associate degree or have completed some college (30 percent) is now greater than that in urban areas (29 percent).
The report notes, however, that educational attainment levels are lower for rural minorities, including black, Hispanic, and Native American residents. In 2014, only 13 percent of white rural residents had less than a high school diploma, compared with 40 percent of Hispanic residents and 25 percent of black residents in rural areas. These attainment levels corresponded with unemployment rates, according to the report.
The report also found higher child-poverty rates in rural areas with lower educational attainment rates. Overall, rural child poverty rose during the Great Recession and has since increased. In 2014, 25.2 percent of rural children lived in poverty compared to 22 percent in 2007.
A version of this article appeared in the January 13, 2016 edition of Education Week as Educational Attainment