College enrollment has declined steadily in the United States in recent years. With rising tuition costs and surging student debt, enrollment rates have fallen at 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 32.1% 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 city where the share of adults with a bachelor's degree is well below the national average.
Using education data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the least educated city in every state.
In West Virginia, no city or town with a population of 25,000 or more has a lower bachelor's degree attainment rate than Parkersburg. Only 16.3% of the adult population in Parkersburg have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 20.6% of adults across the state as a whole.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among American adults with a four-year college education was 5.5% 2020. Among those with no more than a high school diploma, the jobless rate was considerably higher, at 9.0%. In Parkersburg, an average of 6.3% of the population between the ages of 25 and 64 were unemployed over the last five years, higher than the 5.3% jobless rate across the state over that time.
Americans with a bachelor's degree also tend to have higher incomes. 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. In cities with low educational attainment, incomes also tend to be lower than average -- and Parkersburg is no exception. The typical household in the area earns $35,778 a year, below the median household income of $46,711 across West Virginia as a whole.
All cities, towns, villages, boroughs, and census-designated places with over 25,000 people were considered for this story. All data used are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey. This is the least educated city in every state.
|State||Least educated city||Adults in state with a bachelor's degree (%)||Adults in city with a bachelor's degree (%)|
|Florida||West Little River||29.9||10.7|
|New Mexico||South Valley||27.3||14.0|
|South Carolina||North Charleston||28.1||22.8|