Essex County trending up when it comes to college degrees

— Overall, Stallmann says, the trends show that, “rural people have responded to the demand for increased job skills by the increasing their post secondary education.”

Only 11.3 percent of the adult population in Essex County had failed to graduate from high school in 2010. Nationally, 15 percent of adults had not completed high school; in New York, the rate was 15.6 percent.

Nationally, rural counties and counties with small cities have caught up with urban counties in the percentage of adults who have some post high school education. Stallmann sees this as a sign that “there are perhaps more jobs in rural areas that require post secondary education but not college.”

Both Stallmann and Partridge said the data on college education rates told them that rural communities should consider the kind of jobs being created locally.

“Rural communities may need to think about the types of jobs” being created, Stallmann said. “There are some communities that are doing things like getting local businesses to put an emphasis on hiring local kids who got a college education."

“It really suggests that rural communities that aren't thinking about making themselves attractive to educated people are really going to suffer,” Partridge said.

Bill Bishop is co-editor of the Daily Yonder (www.dailyyonder.com), an online news publication covering rural America that is published by the Center for Rural Strategies. Roberto Gallardo is an assistant extension professor at the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University, (srdc.msstate.edu)

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