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New data from the Lumina Foundation on college degree and credential attainment rates show more American adults are earning credentials, but stubborn racial disparities persist.

The 2022 data, released Wednesday, appeared in an updated version of “Stronger Nation,” an online visualization tool Lumina developed to track post–high school credential attainment among working-age adults, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The foundation’s goal is for 60 percent of this population to have a degree or “credential of value” by next year.

The new findings show adults ages 25 to 64 reached a degree and credential attainment rate of 54.3 percent, a modest 0.6-percentage-point increase from 2021 to 2022 but a 16-percentage-point increase compared to 2009, when Lumina began tracking these data. Some states also had notable increases, with Kentucky and Rhode Island boosting attainment 3.4 percentage points year over year.

Among younger adults, ages 25 to 34, 56.3 percent had a postsecondary degree or credential, a 17.6-percentage-point leap since 2009.

“Even as people question the value of higher education, the increase in degree attainment shows more people are investing in education, which on average leads to a higher quality of life,” Courtney Brown, Lumina’s vice president of strategic impact and planning, said in a press release. “Younger adults have made tremendous gains, which bodes well for the nation’s future.”

The number of adults with degrees, as opposed to certificates or other kinds of credentials, rose to 46.5 percent in 2022, up from 45.7 percent in 2021. There were slight declines in adults who held certificates, from 4.3 percent to 4.2 percent, and industry-recognized credentials, from 3.7 percent to 3.6 percent. Over all, 7.8 percent of adults held quality short-term credentials.

Degree attainment rose across racial groups from 2021 to 2022, up 1.5 percentage points for Black and white adults and 1.7 percentage points for Hispanic and Latino adults. However, large attainment gaps persist, according to the data.  Only 26.5 percent of Native Americans, 29.5 percent of Hispanic and Latino adults and 35.7 percent of Black Americans hold an associate degree or higher, compared to the national average of 46.5 percent.

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