How are we doing?
Four-Year College Attainment Rate for the Working Age Population (2021)
Tucson’s working-age college attainment rate was 32.9% in 2021, which ranked Tucson ninth out of 11 peer 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 48.4%, but above the rate posted by Las Vegas, at 25.6%. Further, Tucson’s college attainment rate was above the Arizona rate of 31.2%, yet below the national average of 35.1%. The working-age college attainment rate has increased since 2000 in Tucson, but growth has been slower than in 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 30.4% in 2021, compared to 35.4% for women. College attainment for working-age men in Tucson was below the national rate, with a slightly 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 32.9% by 2021. The four-year college attainment rate for working-age residents nationally has grown at a much faster rate than in Tucson, with the U.S. rate overtaking the Tucson rate in 2010. Since then, the gap has only continued to grow.
How is it measured?
The working-age college attainment rate reflects the share of the population aged 25-64 with a Bachelor’s degree or better. The population aged 25-64 includes employed residents, as well as residents that are unemployed and those that have left the labor force. These data come from the U.S. Census Bureau and are the American Community Survey five-year estimates for 2010, 2015, and 2021. The ACS is a nationwide rolling sample survey that produces one-year and five-year estimates on demographic, social, housing, and economic measures. Note that the ACS five-year estimates are produced over a five-year time period and can only be compared to non-overlapping five-year estimates (for example 2005-2009 and 2010-2014). Data for 2000 are drawn from the Census 2000 SF3 sample.