Education Attainment Increasing, but Remains Below the National Average and is Lower in Rural Areas of the State
While the share of Arkansas’ population with Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees is increasing, the share remains well below the national average and rural areas of the state lag behind the urban areas.
A well-educated workforce is vital for a strong economy and the well-being of state residents. While the share of Arkansas’ population with Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees is increasing, the share remains well below the national average and rural areas of the state lag behind the urban areas.
The share of Arkansas’ population ages 25 years and older with Bachelor’s degrees rose from 19% in 2010 to 21.5% in 2016.[i] Nationally, the share of people with Bachelor’s degrees rose from 27.9% to 30.3% during this same period.
However, educational attainment in both rural and urban areas of the state was below the national average in 2016, with 26% of urban residents having a Bachelor’s degree compared to only 15% in rural areas (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Percent of Population 25 Years of Age and Older with Associate's and Bachelor's, Graduate or Professional Degrees
The share of Arkansans with an Associate’s degree also increased during this same period, from 5.8% in 2010 to 6.4% in 2016. Even with this growth, the share of Arkansans with Associate’s degrees remains substantially below the national average of 8.2% in 2016. [ii]
Much has been written recently about the inability of Arkansas businesses and public agencies to recruit and hire skilled technicians to fill vacant positions. In response to this demand, programs have been developed to raise the awareness of the need for skilled technicians in hopes of recruiting more students in these fields. This is a great opportunity for more Arkansans to obtain the skills needed for jobs in both rural and urban areas of the state. This could increase the well-being of individuals and improve Arkansas’ skilled workforce to better compete in the global economy.
For more information on education and other critical issues facing rural Arkansas, see the 2019 Rural Profile of Arkansas at https://uaex.edu/ruralprofile. For assistance in identifying opportunities and implement strategies to grow your regional economy, contact your county extension agent or our Community & Economic Development unit.
[i] 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Average, U.S. Census Bureau.
[ii] While the recently released 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Average estimates of educational attainment for Arkansas and the U.S. are slightly higher than the 2016 estimates, the differences between Arkansas and U.S. educational attainment levels remain about the same.