Census: Number of Americans with bachelor's degree or higher hits new high

The U.S. Census Bureau has been gathering education information since 1940.

It was recently announced that, for the first time, "more than one-third of the adult population in the United States has a bachelor's degree or higher..."

Education and Social Stratification Branch Chief Kurt Bauman said, "The percentage rose to 33.4 percent in 2016. In 1940, only 4.6 percent had reached that level of education."

U.S. News 20 Best Global Universities for 2017

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U.S. News 20 Best Global Universities for 2017

19. (tie) Imperial College London

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19. (tie) Duke University

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17. (tie) University of Pennsylvania 

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17. (tie) University of Michigan - Ann Arbor 

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16. University of California - San Francisco 

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15. University of California - San Diego 

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14. Yale University 

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13. University of Chicago

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12. University of Washington

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11. Johns Hopkins University

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10.University of California - Los Angeles

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9. Columbia University

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8. Princeton University

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7. Cambridge University

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6. Oxford University. 

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5. California Institute of Technology 

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4. University of California - Berkeley 

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3. Stanford University

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2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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1. Harvard University

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The numbers have made notable bounds in just the past decade.

According to a press release by the bureau, "In 2010, less than 30 percent of those 25 and older had completed a bachelor's degree or higher, and in 2006, 28 percent had reached that level of education."

While college is certainly an expensive endeavor, the 2016 data suggests it can pay off in the long run.

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Reported incomes of people with 4-year degrees were nearly double compared to those with only high school diplomas.

The release further notes that "in 2016, average earnings for males age 25 and older with a bachelor's degree were $79,927. By comparison, average earnings for females in this category in 2016 were $50,856."

Among those listing high school as their top education level, males brought in $41,942 on average compared to their female counterparts' $26,832.

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