The Link Between Income & Education
Visualizing median annual income by level of education in all 3,000 + U.S. Counties
The 2012 - 2016 American Community Survey is a 5-year study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that summarizes various housing and income data across the U.S.
One interesting metric this study tracks is annual income for individuals based on their level of education. In particular, the study classifies individuals based on five levels of education:
Less than high school graduate
High school graduate
Some college or associate's degree
Graduate or professional degree
The map below summarizes the median annual income for all five of these education levels in every U.S. county. Counties with insufficient data are colored in white.
Hover over the counties in the map to reveal the county names and their corresponding median incomes.
The Overall Trend
In general, individuals with higher levels of education earn higher incomes. The table below shows the median annual income for individuals based on level of education.
|Level of Education||Median Annual Income|
|Less than high school graduate||$20,924|
|High school graduate||$28,672|
|Some college or associate's degree||$34,412|
|Graduate or professional degree||$67,832|
Where it Pays to Get a High School Diploma
While high school graduates tend to earn more than non-high school grads, it pays to get a diploma in certain counties more than others. The table below shows the five counties with the greatest difference in median income between high school grads and non-high school grads:
|County||Median Income for individuals with no high school diploma||Median Income for individuals with a high school diploma||Difference|
|Bristol Bay Borough, Alaska||$16,250||$50,278||$34,028|
|Lincoln County, Nevada||$6,325||$35,179||$28,854|
|Catron County, New Mexico||$4,506||$30,229||$25,723|
|Throckmorton County, Texas||$11,953||$37,120||$25,167|
|Steele County, North Dakota||$16,250||$40,938||$24,688|
Where it Pays to Get a Bachelor's Degree
Just as individuals with a high school diploma tend to earn more than their non-diploma peers, those with a bachelor's degree tend to earn more than those with only a high school diploma.
The table below shows the five counties with the greatest difference in median income between individuals with bachelor's degrees and individuals with only high school diplomas.
|County||Median Income for individuals with a high school diploma||Median Income for individuals with a bachelor's degree||Difference|
|Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska||$25,065||$73,194||$48,129|
|Los Alamos County, New Mexico||$24,130||$71,856||$47,726|
|New York County, New York||$25,694||$73,229||$47,535|
|Bethel Census Area, Alaska||$18,699||$65,547||$46,848|
|Loudoun County, Virginia||$35,139||$81,917||$46,778|
Where it Pays to Get a Graduate or Professional Degree
And just as individuals with bachelor's degrees tend to earn more than those with high school diplomas, individuals with graduate or professional degrees tend to earn more than those with bachelor's degrees.
The table below shows the five counties with the greatest difference in median income between individuals with graduate or professional degrees and individuals with only bachelor's degrees.
|County||Median Income for individuals with a bachelor's degree||Median Income for individuals with a graduate or professional degree||Difference|
|Concho County, Texas||$26,327||$104,348||$78,021|
|Covington city, Virginia||$17,750||$80,057||$62,307|
|San Jacinto County, Texas||$44,345||$104,931||$60,586|
|Daggett County, Utah||$30,625||$84,688||$54,063|
|Quitman County, Mississippi||$32,875||$85,313||$52,438|
Feel free to explore the map above to get a granular look at how incomes vary among education levels in counties across the U.S.