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To what degree do we have degrees?

Bachelor’s degrees grow more common every year. The Census Bureau estimates, as of 2015, that 32.5% of the U.S. population 25 years or older have at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet, the GeoFRED map shows that the percentages of the vast majority of counties are lower than the national average: Almost 90% of counties are at 29.5% or less.

Looking at the regions with the highest and lowest percentages can give us some important insights. The southern U.S. claims 9 of the bottom 20 counties, which goes up to 16 of 20 if we include Kentucky and Texas. Loving County, Texas, has the lowest percentage: With a population of 112, it has only 3.7% with at least a bachelor’s degree. The top 20 counties are spread throughout the country, 7 of which are from the state of Virginia: Falls Church City and Arlington County, respectively, have 72.8% and 71.2% with at least a bachelor’s degree. This above-average cluster around Washington D.C. is home to many Fortune 500 companies and multiple federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense’s main base of operation, the Pentagon.

How the graph was created: In GeoFRED, select “Tools” and expand the “Choose Data” section. Under “Region Type” select “County,” and under “Data” search for and choose “Bachelor degree or higher.” The map defaults to the most-recent data available. Expand the “Edit Legend” section, change the number of classes to 6, and manually set the interval values.

Suggested by Joshua Berry

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