There’s good news and bad news for Florida in the new data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The good news: The percentage of Floridians holding at least a two-year degree as of 2013 increased half a point to 38.6%, reflecting a trend of modest improvement over the past couple years. The bad news: Florida’s degree attainment rank actually dropped to 30th in the nation, compared to a rank of 29th in 2012. To show how Florida stacks up compared to other states, the Florida College Access Network (Florida C.A.N.!) has released a new data dashboard with education attainment data searchable by state, age range and education level.
States’ levels of degree attainment have been the focus of reform efforts across the country as leadersrecognize the connection between postsecondary education and economic opportunity. While progress has been slow across the country, Florida’s degree attainment rate has risen modestly each of the past four years for a total of 2.2% since 2009, the 14th highest increase among the states.
Labor economists predict that by 2020, at least 65% of jobs in Florida will require some form of education and training beyond high school. While Florida has seen improvement in degree attainment rates in recent years, progress will need to pick up in order to meet the economy’s predicted demand for increased skills and knowledge. Two areas where the state has room for improvement, as described in a July 2014 data brief by Florida C.A.N.!, are increasing postsecondary attainment for young adults ages 25 to 34 and decreasing the percent of Floridians who have some college credit but no degree.
The degree attainment rate for young adult Floridians is falling behind that of the nation as a whole. Despite efforts to increase degree attainment with each passing generation, Florida’s young adults in 2013 had nearly the same level of degree attainment as their older peers (38.7% compared to 38.6%). By contrast, the national degree attainment rate for young adults rose 1.6% to 41.6% in 2013, which stands 1.2% higher than the national degree attainment rate of adults ages 35 to 64.
Florida also has 2.1 million (21.2%) working-age adults with some college credit but no degree. Recent efforts have focused on re-engaging these adults in higher education using a combination of targeted advising, supports and flexible degree programs, but more will need to be done to reach adults in the communities where they live.
To learn more about Florida’s recent progress in raising its level of degree attainment, Florida C.A.N.!’s data brief and interactive dashboard, which were released in July, provide more detailed information. For more on the degree attainment data released by the American Community Survey this week, view this 5-year trend chart, this interactive state-level data map and the following slides presented by Florida C.A.N.! on a September 18th webinar.