CERC +1 (860) 571-7136

Higher Education Attainment in Connecticut: A Map View

Posted on by Mia Ying

When the great recession in 2008 hit the economy, recently graduated students in addition to experienced professionals struggled to find jobs. One path to weather the economic storm was delaying entering the job market by continuing school, or going back to school, thereby waiting for a better labor market when the economy turned around. The result is a much more educated labor force today: the percentage with bachelor’s degrees or higher among the population of 18 years old and over increased from 25% in 2005-2009 to 28% in 2013-2017 for the US, and from 32% in 2005-2009 to 36% in 2013-2017 for Connecticut (US Census data, ACS 5-year estimates, 2009 and 2017; calculation by CERC)—more than a 10% increase from the pre-crisis level.

Such a change in the labor force brings potentially higher labor productivity, paving the road for long-term economic growth, while also contributing to a formidable student debt challenge in the US, which sows the seeds for the next recession. For better or worse, the following two maps take a more in-depth look at how higher education attainment level manifested during this period for each town in Connecticut.

The first map uses different shades to present, at the town level, the percentage with a bachelor’s degree or higher from the population 18 years old and over during the recent period of 2013-2017.

The second map shows the change in this measure from the pre-recession 2005-2009 period to the period of 2013-2017. A blue tone represents an increase from the pre-recession period, while a red tone represents a decrease.

Overall, the increasing trend in higher education rate at the national and state levels hold true across most towns in Connecticut, but not uniformly so—the same measure sees a decrease in many towns. This decrease could be driven by many factors such as local-level migration, decreasing state investments in public higher education—a question beckoning more exploration case-by-case.

Photo of CCSU courtesy of Sage Ross.