New Jersey is performing better than the nation as a whole, but both the state and country have a postsecondary attainment rate far from what's considered adequate.

Graduate receiving a diploma, close-up of hands
Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay, ThinkStock

According to data released Thursday by Lumina Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to post-high school education, 50.2 percent of New Jersey adults aged 25 to 64 have achieved a degree or certificate beyond high school. It's one of 25 states with a rate above the national average of 45.8 percent. Seven states, including Connecticut and Maryland, score better than the Garden State.

Lumina wants to see 60 percent of Americans earn postsecondary credentials by the year 2025. New Jersey has its own goal of 65 percent by the same year.

"Today's economy demands a more educated and skilled workforce, and that's only going to continue to grow," said Courtney Brown, Lumina's vice president of strategic impact. "Jobs that require postsecondary education ... they're only going to increase in demand, and those jobs that don't require those credentials are shrinking in numbers and pay."

The analysis uses the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

New Jersey's attainment rate has increased 5.6 percentage points since 2008, but in that time period, workforce and industry certificates were added to the equation.

County attainment levels (associate degree or higher), according to Lumina:

  • Atlantic: 33.4 percent
  • Bergen: 57 percent
  • Burlington: 47.5 percent
  • Camden: 40.1 percent
  • Cape May: 40.3 percent
  • Cumberland: 22 percent (state low)
  • Essex: 40.3 percent
  • Gloucester: 42 percent
  • Hudson: 46.2 percent
  • Hunterdon: 59.3 percent
  • Mercer: 48 percent
  • Middlesex: 51.1 percent
  • Monmouth: 53 percent
  • Morris: 61.4 percent
  • Ocean: 38.6 percent
  • Passaic: 33.5 percent
  • Salem: 32.5 percent
  • Somerset: 62.3 percent (state high)
  • Sussex: 44.8 percent
  • Union: 41.1 percent
  • Warren: 41.3 percent

Lumina's report also noted obvious racial and ethnic disparities both nationally and statewide.

Fifty-three percent of New Jersey's white adult population had at least an associate degree in 2015, but the attainment rate was 31.2 percent for African-Americans and 24.4 percent among the Hispanic population.

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