Roberto Gallardo of the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University writes at Daily Yonder — a website devoted to rural issues — that the more-educated rural counties in the nation are growing more prosperous while the least-educated counties have much lower per capita wages.
Gallardo and Bill Bishop used EMSI and Census data to compare rural counties according to the percentage of bachelor and more advanced degrees. The result was this very telling chart:
The authors also point out that rural America is falling behind urban areas in educational attainment — in particular when it comes to bachelor degrees.
In 1990, 23% of adults in urban counties had at least a B.A. degree. The rural rate in that year was 12.4% — approximately half the urban rate.
By 2009, an estimated 29.9% of urban adults had earned at least a B.A. degree. The rate in rural areas had increased to 16.8% of adults. The gap in B.A. attainment between urban and rural counties had increased from 10.6 points to 13.1. (Estimates of county education levels were developed by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc.)