Community Blog: The EDge

Some sobering Idaho go-on numbers

In the arena of going on, Idaho is going slightly backward.

Only 36.1 percent of the state’s working-age adults hold a two- or four-year college degree, according to a new study from the Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit. That figure, based on 2012 U.S. Census Bureau figures, is down from 36.5 percent in 2011.

The national average is 39.4 percent.

A few more sobering numbers from the Lumina Foundation report:

  • A slow trajectory. The Lumina Foundation predicts Idaho’s figures will improve, but not quickly. Based on current trends, Idaho’s 2020 rate should reach 39.1 percent (still below the current national average), and 40.9 percent by 2025. Lumina’s nationwide goal is a 60 percent degree-holding rate by 2025. Meanwhile, the Idaho State Board of Education has set its own aggressive goal — by 2020, the board wants 60 percent of Idaho’s 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a degree or certificate.
  • Demographic gaps. Idaho’s Hispanic and American Indian populations lag well behind Idaho’s lackluster state average in degree attainment. The Hispanic population, Idaho’s largest minority group, has only a 12.5 percent degree attainment rate. For American Indians, the rate is 20.4 percent.
  • Higher ed hotbeds? The state’s highest degree attainment rate, 52.4 percent, can be found in Latah County, home to the University of Idaho. Madison County, home to BYU-Idaho, came in second at 48.4 percent. Ada County, home to Boise State University, was third at 46.1 percent. But there are only pockets of the state with a relatively well-educated work force — and 36 of the state’s 44 counties fell short of the overall statewide average. Owyhee County ranked lowest in the state, with a 14.8 percent degree attainment rate.

For more about the study, here’s a J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation news release.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, and housed under Boise State University.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

Posted in The EDge