Nonmetro education levels are improving, but still lag metro
Historically, nonmetro areas in the United States have lagged behind metro areas in educational attainment, but nonmetro educational attainment levels continue to increase. From 2000 to 2017–21, the share of adults with less than a high school diploma declined in nonmetro areas from 24 percent to 13 percent and the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 15 percent to 21 percent. However, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher in metro areas increased from 26 percent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2017–21, widening the nonmetro-metro gap from 11 percentage points to 15 percentage points. One explanation for the persisting and widening gap may be the higher pay more highly-educated workers can often earn in metropolitan labor markets.
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