Working Age College Graduates

How are we doing?

Four-Year College Attainment Rate for the Working Age Population (2015)

Tucson’s working age college attainment rate was 29.3% in 2015, which ranked Tucson ninth out of 12 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the west. The working age college attainment rate in the Tucson MSA was far below the rate posted by Austin, at 42.4%, but well above the rate posted by Las Vegas, at 22.4%. Further, Tucson’s college attainment rate was above the Arizona rate of 27.6%, but below the national average of 31.3%. The working age college attainment rate has increased since 2000 in Tucson, but growth has been slower than Arizona and the nation.

Why is it important?

Educated workers are a key ingredient for strong economic growth. They earn higher wages, make firms more productive and innovative, and contribute to stronger wage growth for less skilled workers. Overall, local areas with a higher concentration of highly educated workers tend to generate faster long-run income, population, and job growth than regions with lower concentrations.

How do we compare?

The working age college attainment rate for men in the Tucson MSA was 28.4% in 2015, compared to 30.2% for women. College attainment for working age men in Tucson was below the national rate, with a larger gap for women. The rates for both men and women in Tucson exceeded the comparable Arizona rates.

What are the key trends?

The college attainment rate for working age residents in the Tucson MSA rose from 27.6% in 2000 to 29.3% by 2009. That translated into a growth rate of 6.2% over the 9 year period. However, the college attainment rate in Tucson has remained flat since 2009. Additionally, Tucson’s growth fell well below the Arizona (11.7%) and national rates (18.1%).

How is it measured?

The working age college attainment rate reflects the share of the population age 25-64 with a Bachelor’s degree or better. The population age 25-64 includes employed residents, as well as residents that are unemployed and those that have left the labor force. The data come from the U.S. Census Bureau and are the American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2009, and 2015. The ACS is a nationwide rolling sample survey that produces one-year and five-year estimates on demographic, social, housing, and economic measures. Data for 2000 are drawn from the Census 2000 SF3 sample.