The Lumina Foundation for Education, based in Indianapolis, released "A Stronger Nation Through Education" Tuesday. The foundation argues the country should set a "Big Goal" of 60 percent of adults having at least a two-year degree by 2025.
In 2008, 37.9 percent of the adult population had degrees, and about 22 percent of working adults had attended college but did not have a degree. The report said if the current trend continues, only 47 percent will hold degrees by 2025.
"One of the biggest developments in this year's report is the strength of the relationship between higher education and the economy," said Dewayne Matthews, Lumina's vice president for policy and strategy. "People are beginning to understand that job growth is a structural issue, and that higher education is the key to economic growth."
The report found marked differences among states, with almost half of the adults in Massachusetts holding degrees and fewer than 26 percent of those in West Virginia. Hispanics had the lowest level of achievement among major ethnic groups, with 18 percent holding post-secondary degrees.