Highlighting New Educational Attainment Data from Census

This week the Census Bureau released 2010 educational attainment data from its Current Population Survey. It sheds an interesting light on, among many other things, how many in the US over the age of 25 have completed college degrees and the exact years of education completed — by gender and race.

This Census article points out that 17% of the 25-and-over population have attended some college but have no degree to show for it. The chart below gives the complete breakdown.

chart showing the percentage of 25 and older adults who finish school

More specifically, 16.8% of males have completed anywhere from less than one year to four years of college but have no degree, compared to 16.5% of females. Those percentages come from this Excel file.

Another table gives attainment by labor force status (employed, unemployed, not in civilian labor force), occupation, and industry. We combined a few of the numbers to create the chart below. It displays what percentage of the 25-and-over population, by major occupation group, hold associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, or advanced degrees.

To make the presentation clearer, we combined master’s, professional, and doctorate degrees to create the advanced degree category.

One of the first things that sticks out is how nearly 35% of the workforce in professional and related occupations holds an advanced degree. That far eclipses the other occupation groups (No. 2 is management, business, and financial occupations, at 19%).

Other findings of note:

  • Only three of these groups have more associate-degree holders than bachelor’s- or advanced-degree holders. The list is led by installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (16%) and production occupations (9%). Consider, though, for both of those occupation groups nearly half of the workforce tops out with high school diplomas.
  • Management, business, and financial occupations have the highest percentage of bachelor’s degrees (38%), followed by professional and related occupations (35%).
  • Though we didn’t display it in this chart, office and administrative occupations have the highest percentage of workers in the some college category (27%). See the table below for the full breakout.
HS Diploma Some College Associate’s Degree Bachelor’s Degree Advanced Degree
Management, business, and financial 17% 15% 9% 38% 19%
Professional and related 8% 10% 12% 35% 34%
Service occupations 38% 20% 10% 12% 2%
Sales and related 31% 20% 9% 28% 6%
Office and administrative 36% 27% 13% 18% 3%
Farming, forestry, and fishing 34% 9% 5% 7% 1%
Construction and extraction 47% 16% 7% 6% 1%
Installation, maintenance, and repair 45% 19% 16% 8% 1%
Production 46% 15% 9% 7% 2%
Transportation and material moving 50% 18% 6% 8% 2%

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