Shelby County is most educated county in Alabama

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Shelby County has narrowly edged out Huntsville’s Madison County over the past several years to retain its spot as the most-educated county in Alabama, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

According to data compiled from 2011 to 2015, 40.8 percent of Shelby County’s adults 25 and older had at least a college degree, which is up significantly from the county’s past. In 1970, only 5.8 percent of the county’s residents had a college degree, and the number went up to 17.8 percent in 1980, 29 percent in 1990 and 36.8 percent in 2000.

Shelby County tops Alabama’s average of college degree attainment, which was 23.5 percent from 2011-2015. The District of Columbia has the nation’s highest percentage of college degree obtainment at 54.4 percent from 2011-2015, followed by Massachusetts at 40.5 percent and Colorado at 38.1 percent. Georgia had the highest college degree obtainment rate in the Southeast, at 28.8 percent.

Other counties to best the state average from 2011-2015 were Madison County at 39.4 percent, Lee County at 34 percent, Montgomery County at 31.1. percent, Jefferson County at 30.8 percent, Baldwin County at 29 percent, Tuscaloosa County at 28.5 percent and Coffee County at 23.9 percent.

Shelby County’s percentage of adults who have obtained a high school diploma only is 21.4, while 29.2 percent of Shelby County adults have attended some college or obtained an associate’s degree only.

All of the numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and can be viewed at Data.ers.usda.gov/reports.aspx?ID=17829.