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Tulare County among nation’s least educated areas

Tulare County among nation’s least educated areas

Visalia-Porterville is among five Central Valley metro area ranked the lowest in education

@TheSunGazette

SACRAMENTO – Tulare County is one of the least educated places in the nation, according to a recent study comparing it to metropolitan areas of a similar size.

The Visalia-Porterville metro, which is essentially all of Tulare County, is ranked 148th out of the nation’s 150 largest metros for education attainment in an-depth analysis conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance website that releases periodic rankings. Other, larger, metros, some of which have California State University campuses within the metros, hardly faired better. Metropolitan areas in the Central Valley comprised five of the seven least educated cities: 144. Salinas;145. Fresno; 146. Modesto; 147. Bakersfield; and 148. Visalia-Porterville. The only two cities lower on the list were Brownsville, Texas and McAllen, Texas.

WalletHub’s analysts compared the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across nine key metrics. The data set ranged from share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to quality of the public school system to gender education gap.

For example, Ann Arbor, Mich. has the highest share of bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older, 52.7 percent, which is 3.8 times higher than in Visalia-Porterville, the metro area with the lowest at 13.8 percent. Visalia-Porterville ranked higher on the ‘Quality of Education & Attainment Gap’ at 115 but still much lower than other Valley cities: Fresno, 70; Modesto, 80; Bakersfield, 85.

WalletHub conducted the study because besides providing invaluable cultural experiences and the opportunity to build lifelong connections, a college education can lead to better job opportunities and increase future earning potential. Bachelor’s degree holders earn up to 33 percent more, on average, than non-college-educated workers in certain states. And the more degree holders earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

A highly educated workforce is also an indication of the strength of the local economy. In states where workers have the least schooling, for instance, the median wage is $15 an hour compared with $19 to $20 an hour in states where 40 percent or more of the working population hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Local governments appear to be catching on and maximizing the appeal of their cities to college graduates.

Least Educated Cities*
141. Beaumont, Texas
142. Lafayette, Louisiana
143. Hickory, North Carolina
144. Salinas, California
145. Fresno
146. Modesto
147. Bakersfield
148. Visalia-Porterville
149. Brownsville, Texas
150. McAllen, Texas

Most Educated Cities*
1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
2. Washington, D.C.
3. San Jose, California
4. Durham, North Carolina
5. Madison, Wisconsin
6. Boston, Massachusetts
7. Provo, Utah
8. San Francisco
9. Austin, Texas
10. Tallahassee, Florida

*SOURCE: WalletHub.com

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