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Latinos see jump in college degrees, but gap widens, census shows

The share of Latinos 25 and older obtaining college degrees jumped 30 percent over 15 years, but they are still far behind whites, Blacks and Asian Americans.
Image: Four College Graduates, Outdoors, Silhouetted.
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The share of U.S. Latinos 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree grew 30 percent over 15 years, but the jump wasn’t enough to close the gap with white, Asian American and Black degree holders.

In fact, because of increases in degree holders in those groups, the gap widened slightly for Latinos, according to Census Bureau American Community Survey data released Monday.

In 2005-09, 30.6 percent of non-Latino whites 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, while just 12.6 percent of Latinos did.

By the years 2015-19, the share grew to 35.8 percent for white, non-Hispanics with a bachelor’s or more, compared to 16.4 percent of Hispanics.

The highest share of people 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees were Asian Americans, with 49.6 percent in 2005-09 and 54.3 percent in 2015-19. However, they had the smallest percent change, 9.5 percent, in attaining higher education degrees.

Blacks rose from 17.2 percent to 21.6 percent in the five-year period of 2015 to 2019.

Excluding those who identified as some other race, Native Americans had the lowest share of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 15 percent in 2015-19, a 2.2 percent change from 12.8 in 2005-09.

The census numbers show that bachelor’s degree attainment has increased, for the most part, across the U.S., but the growth has varied by geographic region.

Counties in the nation’s Northeast had the highest average rate of residents with a bachelor’s degree, followed by the West, Midwest and South. The Northeast also had the fastest rate of growth, while counties in the South had smaller rates of growth.

The number of counties where 9.9 percent or less of the population 25 and older had bachelor’s degrees fell from 259 in 2005-09 to 89 by 2015-19, with 76 of those counties in the South.

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