College enrollment has declined steadily in the United States in recent years. With rising tuition costs and surging student debt, enrollment has fallen by an average of nearly 2% a year since 2010. While four years of higher education may not be for everyone, Americans without a bachelor’s degree tend to be far more limited in their career opportunities, job security, and earning potential.
Nationwide, an estimated 33.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in nearly every state, there is at least one metro area where the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is well below the national average.
In the Houma-Thibodaux metro area, located in Louisiana, only 16.3% of the adult population have a bachelor’s degree, the smallest share of any metro area in the state. Meanwhile, across Louisiana, 25.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The average weekly wage for a college-educated worker in the United States is about 67% higher than it is for those with no more than a high school diploma — and in places with lower educational attainment, incomes also tend to be lower than average. In the Houma-Thibodaux metro area, the typical household earns $49,874 per year, less than the median household income across Louisiana of $51,073.
All data in this story are one-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.