Stronger Nation Report - Lumina Foundation

Last Updated: 03/08/2024

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In 2008, Lumina issued a national call for 60 percent of adults to have college degrees or other high-quality credentials beyond high school by 2025 to meet labor-market demand and ensure the country's global competitiveness. Within the past 15 years, the proportion of adults in the United States between the ages of 25 to 64 with college degrees, certificates, or industry-recognized certifications has increased from 37.9 percent to 53.7 percent. These gains in the share of adults with education and training after high school have come from growth in the numbers of adults earning credentials and an improved ability to measure and count quality short-term credentials such as certificates and certifications.

Since 2009, Lumina Foundation has tracked the post-high school educational attainment of Americans ages 25 to 64 through its signature report, A Stronger Nation. The nation’s attainment rate includes associate degrees and higher, as well as high-value, short-term credentials such as college certificates and industry-based certifications

As a regularly updated online data visualization, A Stronger Nation provides insights at the national, state, and county levels and across major metropolitan areas, with breakdowns by race, ethnicity, age, and credential type. The report is the foundation's online tool for tracking the share of working-age adults with degrees or other credentials of value.

In the latest report issued in early 2023, the national post-high school education rate among adults 25 to 64 years old reached 53.7 percent in 2021, an increase of nearly 2 percentage points since 2019 when the percentage was 51.9.

An online data visualization tool, Stronger Nation relies on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which experienced difficulties with data collection in 2020 tied to the COVID pandemic. Findings from the 2021 data (the most recent available) include:

  • The percentage of people earning degrees increased across all races and ethnicities but rose the most among Hispanics and Latinos, an almost 2.5-percentage-point gain, followed by an almost 2-point increase among Black adults. Nonetheless, educational attainment rates among Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Alaska Native, and poor, rural adults are still lower than the national average of 45.7 percent.
  • Among adults 25 to 34 years old, the rate of degree and short-term credential attainment is 55.9 percent, an increase of 2 percentage points. This level of attainment indicates more people in the future will be prepared for jobs requiring college-level knowledge and skills.
  • States that experienced the largest two-year gains in attainment were Vermont (6.4 percentage points), Indiana (5.6 percentage points), and Idaho (5.4 percentage points).

A Stronger Nation is used to help communities and stakeholders view their current status, understand the populations where they may wish to focus their efforts, and devise ways to increase access to and success in education beyond high school.


A Stronger Nation

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