Least educated counties in Illinois

Written by:
May 14, 2022
Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

Least educated counties in Illinois

The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, growing costs have led many students to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push others toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker compiled a list of the least educated counties in Illinois using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the lowest percent of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Ties are broken by the highest percent with less than high school diploma.

Keep read on for a look at the least-educated counties in Illinois.

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ProfDEH // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Marshall County

- 18.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.2% ($15,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.4% ($32,632)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.6% ($39,425)
- Bachelor's degree: 14.8% ($50,337)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($69,688)

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#49. Knox County

- 18.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.9% ($18,158 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.6% ($26,088)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.6% ($32,278)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.5% ($44,139)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.5% ($61,743)

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Dual Freq // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Douglas County

- 18.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.8% ($35,110 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.4% ($30,750)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31% ($34,536)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.8% ($51,433)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5% ($61,189)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Moultrie County

- 18.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15.2% ($42,075 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.4% ($35,813)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.7% ($40,728)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.8% ($46,406)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.9% ($51,364)

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Coalfather // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Macoupin County

- 18.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.7% ($16,932 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.8% ($34,530)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.1% ($36,665)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.3% ($47,467)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($61,269)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Henderson County

- 18.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.8% ($24,688 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.7% ($30,913)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.2% ($33,493)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.8% ($39,567)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($51,897)

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#44. Wabash County

- 18.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($21,989 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 30.7% ($26,921)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 41.7% ($31,700)
- Bachelor's degree: 12% ($46,346)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.2% ($54,167)

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IvoShandor // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Whiteside County

- 18.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($26,801 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.7% ($31,135)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.6% ($32,407)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.2% ($44,924)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($62,210)

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IvoShandor // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Lee County

- 18.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.2% ($23,810 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.8% ($34,138)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.7% ($38,399)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.3% ($49,370)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.9% ($72,063)

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#41. Jefferson County

- 17.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.6% ($19,455 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 30.6% ($28,834)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.9% ($33,632)
- Bachelor's degree: 11% ($43,372)
- Graduate or professional degree: 7% ($67,010)

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Mingusboodle // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Pike County

- 17.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.3% ($22,315 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.7% ($32,183)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.2% ($35,783)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.7% ($45,962)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($42,063)

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Teemu08 // Wikimedia Commons

#39. LaSalle County

- 17.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.4% ($21,773 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.6% ($31,396)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.1% ($39,213)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.7% ($44,926)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($61,675)

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#38. Fulton County

- 17.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.4% ($14,764 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.5% ($27,474)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.6% ($31,391)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.8% ($48,367)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($52,898)

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Boscophotos // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Mercer County

- 17.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.1% ($33,636 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.6% ($37,152)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.9% ($36,498)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.5% ($49,509)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.9% ($55,476)

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#36. Edgar County

- 17.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10% ($24,489 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.3% ($30,197)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.5% ($38,631)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.7% ($46,750)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($51,176)

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#35. Christian County

- 17.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.3% ($26,438 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.8% ($32,136)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.9% ($38,470)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.6% ($49,720)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($63,061)

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#34. Crawford County

- 17.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15% ($13,352 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 28.6% ($30,650)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.4% ($33,125)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.6% ($47,955)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($63,309)

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#33. Stark County

- 17% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.7% ($23,750 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.6% ($33,409)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.6% ($38,427)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.4% ($45,639)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.6% ($80,417)

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TheCatalyst31 // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Hamilton County

- 17% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.9% ($12,969 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.9% ($31,461)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.2% ($43,083)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.4% ($35,950)
- Graduate or professional degree: 7.6% ($63,170)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Shelby County

- 16.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($17,153 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.4% ($32,415)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.1% ($32,286)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.6% ($46,616)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($50,188)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Franklin County

- 16.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.1% ($16,938 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33% ($24,405)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.2% ($32,388)
- Bachelor's degree: 11% ($42,423)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($57,366)

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#29. Montgomery County

- 16.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.3% ($21,813 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.3% ($30,913)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.7% ($33,255)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.3% ($47,193)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.4% ($53,601)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Putnam County

- 16.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.3% ($28,875 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.1% ($33,783)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.1% ($43,393)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.6% ($42,500)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($61,042)

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#27. Jasper County

- 16.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.2% ($17,063 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.1% ($32,078)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.1% ($33,235)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.8% ($38,162)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($56,964)

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#26. Mason County

- 16% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.9% ($18,214 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 42.8% ($27,301)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.3% ($31,795)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.2% ($52,083)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($54,821)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Johnson County

- 16% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17.8% ($20,603 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.6% ($32,000)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.7% ($36,462)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.4% ($50,650)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($56,035)

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Iroquois County

- 15.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.5% ($21,341 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.8% ($29,031)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.8% ($36,576)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.5% ($47,500)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($57,440)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Scott County

- 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.5% ($11,750 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 47.7% ($36,078)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.9% ($42,245)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.7% ($44,286)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($65,833)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#22. White County

- 15.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10% ($30,580 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($31,414)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.1% ($32,144)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.4% ($48,179)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($59,034)

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MattHucke // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Cumberland County

- 15.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($17,634 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.1% ($31,880)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.1% ($37,951)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.9% ($47,125)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($67,241)

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#20. Wayne County

- 15.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12% ($28,343 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.9% ($35,283)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 37.7% ($34,545)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.4% ($42,278)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($46,731)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Marion County

- 15.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.1% ($16,952 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 35.2% ($30,095)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.7% ($32,169)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.8% ($45,408)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($51,875)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Cass County

- 15.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16% ($30,833 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 43.1% ($32,188)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 25.9% ($35,901)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.8% ($38,354)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($50,139)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Clay County

- 15% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12% ($22,138 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.6% ($31,396)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.4% ($35,799)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.1% ($43,534)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($76,518)

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#16. Lawrence County

- 14.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15.1% ($19,950 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.7% ($34,024)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 35.3% ($31,359)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.6% ($46,696)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($53,854)

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IvoShandor // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Livingston County

- 14.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.1% ($22,976 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 44.7% ($32,377)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.5% ($35,408)
- Bachelor's degree: 10% ($45,568)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($66,037)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Vermilion County

- 14.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.5% ($25,768 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 41.2% ($31,647)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.5% ($33,750)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.9% ($49,569)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($52,889)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Calhoun County

- 14.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.5%
- High school graduate: 43.4% ($42,125)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.9% ($41,429)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.1% ($55,625)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.2% ($53,235)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Brown County

- 14.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17% ($23,617 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.5% ($34,746)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.4% ($38,141)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.3% ($49,113)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($50,375)

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#11. Edwards County

- 13.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8% ($20,250 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.5% ($31,301)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 43.5% ($36,054)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.2% ($46,667)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.7% ($46,806)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Massac County

- 13.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 13.2% ($16,789 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.6% ($31,198)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.2% ($35,669)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.1% ($43,878)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($48,661)

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#9. Randolph County

- 13.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15.6% ($24,038 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.3% ($31,292)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.7% ($33,910)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.4% ($50,544)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($51,378)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Pope County

- 13.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 14%
- High school graduate: 36%
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.9% ($26,136)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.7% ($29,000)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($45,096)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Alexander County

- 12.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 13.5% ($15,536 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.7% ($27,125)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.9% ($27,424)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.9% ($45,313)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3% ($50,250)

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Boscophotos // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Greene County

- 12.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($13,750 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 47.6% ($30,371)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.2% ($33,183)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.5% ($44,435)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.3% ($44,679)

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Pulaski County

- 12.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.3% ($21,453 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.3% ($25,521)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 40% ($30,795)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.6% ($36,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5%

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Perry County

- 12.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.7% ($31,250 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.6% ($32,384)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.2% ($36,326)
- Bachelor's degree: 9% ($46,821)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($62,024)

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#3. Fayette County

- 11.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($13,479 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.2% ($29,550)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.4% ($32,358)
- Bachelor's degree: 8% ($50,368)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.3% ($55,172)

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#2. Gallatin County

- 10.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 13.1% ($27,500 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 39.8% ($31,387)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.3% ($32,800)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.7% ($52,708)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($70,000)

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Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Hardin County

- 10.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.4% ($31,406 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.3% ($35,865)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.6% ($40,245)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.6%
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.1% ($98,333)

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