Census Bureau figures from March 2011 show more than 30 percent of U.S. adults age 25 now have a bachelor's degree, compared with less than 25 percent as recently as 1998.
From 2001 to 2011, the number of Hispanics with a bachelor's or higher level education increased 80 percent from 2.1 million to 3.8 million. The percentage of Hispanic adults with a bachelor's or higher education increased from 11.1 percent in 2001 to 14.1 percent in 2011.
Overall, the proportion of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher increased from 26.2 percent in 2001 to 30.4 percent over the decade.
"This is an important milestone in our history," Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said Thursday. "For many people, education is a sure path to a prosperous life. The more education people have the more likely they are to have a job and earn more money, particularly for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree."
The Census Bureau said people with bachelor's degrees had lower rates of unemployment than those with less education in every month from January 2008 to December 2010.
More than one-third of the nation's 56 million bachelor's degree holders earned their degree in science and engineering. Of those degree holders, nearly half live along the nation's East and West coasts, the Census Bureau said.
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