College & Workforce Readiness

Lumina Report Shows Slight Uptick in Americans With Degrees

By Caralee J. Adams — March 26, 2012 2 min read
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More Americans are earning college degrees, and the pace is picking up among younger adults, according to a report out today from the Lumina Foundation.

“A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education” found the percentage of adults ages 25 to 64 with two- or four-year college degrees was 38.3 percent in 2010, up from 38.1 percent in 2009 and 37.9 percent in 2008. Among those 25 to 34, the attainment rate was 39.3 percent, an improvement from 39.0 percent in 2009 and 37.8 percent in 2008. The data were drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 American Community Survey.

(The Lumina Foundation underwrites coverage of the alignment between K-12 schools and postsecondary education in Education Week.)

“Although the overall trend is positive, the pace of change is far too slow,” writes
Jamie Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, in the report.

It’s been three years since the Lumina Foundation adopted its Big Goal of 60 percent of Americans earning a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. At the current pace, less than 47 percent of Americans will have at least an associate degree by 2025, leaving the marketplace with a lack of skilled workers.

“We simply cannot afford this shortfall—not as a nation built on the concept of individual opportunity, or as a society committed to social progress,” writes Merisotis.

In this third “Stronger Nation” report, Lumina provides degree attainment by state and every county in the United States. It also lists attainment rates of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. The top five most-educated cities: Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

Looking more closely at demographics, the report finds degree attainment is highest among Asians (59 percent), followed by whites (43 percent), blacks (27 percent), native Americans (23 percent) and Hispanics (19 percent).

A snapshot of education attainment levels for U.S. residents ages 35-64 breaks down in the following groups:
Less than 9th grade - 4.87 percent
9th to 12th grade (no diploma) - 7.65 percent
High school graduate (including equivalency): 27.07 percent
Some college, no degree: 22.10 percent
Associate degree - 8.44 percent
Bachelor’s degree - 19.18 percent
Graduate or professional degree - 10.70 percent

Last fall, the College Board released a college-completion report indicating 41.1 percent of adults 25 to 34 had an associate degree or higher, up from 38.1 percent in 2000.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.