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Knowing Your State’s Education Level Gives Insight into your Customers and Talent Pool



The Top 10 Highest Educated States

Knowing the demographics in which your small business operates in allows you to better serve the community, as well as figure out the education level of the talent pool available to run your company. In addressing the latter, a recent research carried out by Zippia revealed the most highly educated states in the US.

Not surprisingly, states which are traditionally known for their institutions of higher learning ranked in the top of the Zippia list, with the East Coast taking nine of the top 10 spots.

This information will, of course, have its pros/cons for small business owners because it will let you know just how much more you are going to have to spend to hire the people that work for you. This will depend on the industry your business is serving, and the more specialized talent you need the more it will probably cost you in states with fewer prospects.

In order to come up with the list, Zippia looked at the American Community Survey (ACS) Census data from 2012 to 2016. This is the US government’s source for helping local officials, community leaders, and small businesses understand the changes which are taking place where they live.

The ACS Census data provides detailed population and housing information in the US.



The Top 10 Highest Educated States

With colleges and universities such as MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, Tufts, Amherst, Northeastern, Brandeis, and many others, it is not surprising Massachusetts got the number one spot from Zippia.





According to the report, 18.7% of people in the state hold at least one master’s degree. The report attributes this high rate to a strong primary and secondary education which has resulted in academic success with post-graduate degrees.

When it comes to bachelor’s degrees, the number jumped to whopping 41.27%, which also tops the list with this type of degree across all 50 states.

Coming in at a close second was Maryland with 17.72% of the people with a master’s degree and 38.42% with bachelor’s in a state with a population of just under 6 million.

It is no coincidence as Maryland also has some great schools in the state including Johns Hopkins, US Naval Academy, University of Maryland, Towson University and others.

Connecticut came in at number three with 16.79% with master’s degrees and 38.09% with bachelor’s in the state. This was followed by Virginia at number four with 15.69% master’s degrees and 36.89% bachelor’s, which leaves New York rounding up the top five at 15.09% master’s degrees and 34.79% bachelor’s degrees.





The remaining top 10, starts with Vermont at number six, followed by New Jersey, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island taking the number seven, eight, nine and 10 spots respectively.

As to the bottom 10 states in the country, it starts with Iowa at number 41 with 8.73% of the population with a master’s degrees. Idaho is at the 42nd spot with 8.36%, followed by Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Mississippi with the 43rd, 44th, and 45th places.

The bottom half starts with Nevada at the 46th place with 7.91% of the population with a master’s degree. Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Arkansas take the 47th to the 50th place in the list respectively.



Why the Data is so Important

According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (PDF), by the time 2020 rolls around 65% of the jobs in the US will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.



If your small business requires a specialized workforce and it is in a state with a low population of postsecondary graduates, it means you will have a much harder time finding the talent you need.

This type of research lets you see what is available in your environment so you can make informed decisions about the future of our company.



Photo via Shutterstock 2 Comments ▼


Michael Guta


Michael Guta Michael Guta is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends focusing on business systems, gadgets and other small business news. He has a background in information and communications technology coordination.

2 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    This will also show you how much purchasing power your customer has and adjust your prices based on that.

  2. Alex Yong

    Making inferences based on degrees might be helpful for hiring in some sectors but in my humble opinion I’d take any inferences related to customer purchasing power with a grain of salt. I live in the most-educated Congressional district in the U.S., but lots of people here have 6-digit debt from, dare I say it, too many university degrees.

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