Percentage of those 25 years or older with a bachelor's degree or higher:
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Indiana Business Research Center
Note: Only data for communities with populations of 65,000 or more were released for 2016.
People with a college degree are on the rise in Fort Wayne, Allen County and the nation.
More than a quarter of Allen County adults 25 years and older have a bachelor's degree or higher, according to the latest census estimates.
Since 2000, the rate has increased about 5 percentage points to 28.8 percent.
The increase is even greater in Fort Wayne, where 29.1 percent have a bachelor's or higher, a nearly 10 percentage-point increase since 2000, according to the estimates.
“It's exciting,” said Isabel Nunez, chair of IPFW's Department of Educational Studies. “It seems like a really positive trend to me.”
While the city and county numbers are lower than the nation's 31.3 percent rate, both surpass the state's overall rate of 25.6 percent. Indiana ranks near the bottom – 43rd among the states and the District of Columbia – for those having a college degree.
And while Fort Wayne's college-degree rate is near the middle among Indiana's 11 largest cities, the increase since 2000 is second to Carmel, whose 69.7 percent rate is a climb of more than 11 percentage points. Carmel is north of Indianapolis.
John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership covering 11 counties, called the census numbers good news. The group has a goal to increase the percentage of northeast Indiana residents with college degrees or post-high school credentials to 60 percent by 2030.
“To our credit, great collaborative work is already in progress throughout northeast Indiana,” Sampson said in an email response. “From pre-K, through K-12, to institutions of higher education, to providers of career and technical education, we are aligned and laser-focused on quality degrees and credentials to meet the needs of our region's employers. The data is great news to affirm we are headed in the right direction. This is a must for the economic future of Northeast Indiana. We can do it!”
About 38 percent of Allen County adults 25 and older have an associate degree or higher. An estimated 22.7 percent have some college but no degree.
The latest estimates are from the 2016 American Community Survey. Last year was the first time more than a third of American adults had a bachelor's degree or higher.
Higher education often translates into higher income.
The average high school graduate earns $35,615, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in March. Those with a bachelor's degree earn an average $65,482, and an advanced degree earns an average $92,525, according to census figures.
Millennial workers ages 25 to 29 are more likely than past generations to have at least a bachelor's degree, the Pew Research Center, using census data, reported in May. Forty percent of employed millennials have a college degree, compared with 32 percent for Gen Xers and 26 percent for baby boomers when they were in the same age range, the center said.
The counties served by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership especially need people with skills in programming, coding, engineering and other technical skills, Sampson said. The group meets with leaders of higher education to focus on the region's employment demands.
“We're bringing to them a focus on what our target industries are in the region so they can get better connected from a higher ed standpoint to meet this need as well,” he said.
Other census findings for Allen County:
• More of the county's 24,744 foreign-born residents are becoming U.S. citizens. Naturalized citizens grew 12.6 percentage points to 44.5 percent between 2012 and 2016, while non-citizens dropped at the same rate to 55.5 percent.
• Those claiming German ancestry, the county's largest foreign lineage, declined four percentage points to 26.8 percent.
• Fewer Allen County residents are without a vehicle, down to 5.3 percent from 7.4 percent in 2012. Nearly 20 percent of households have three or more vehicles, up from 17.6 percent in 2012.
• The median value of a home has climbed to $121,300, up from $113,500 in 2012. The median housing costs for those holding a mortgage are down about 4 percent to $978.
• Fewer Allen County homeowners are paying more than a third of their income on housing costs – 11.3 percent, compared with 14 percent in 2012.
• At a median of $708 a month, county renters are paying nearly 5 percent more for housing compared with 2012.