A college education can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life, and it may be more important now than ever before. Studies show the typical four-year college graduate earns $21,000 more than the typical high school graduate.

A four-year college degree may not make sense for everyone, however, and many are unable to afford college. Bachelor’s degree attainment rates vary considerably across the country.

Nationwide, 30.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. In the Louisville, Kentucky metro area, the 28.7% share is slightly smaller the comparable national share. Across Kentucky as a whole, some 23.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the lower shares compared to all states.

Of the five metro area in Kentucky, Louisville’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate is the second highest.

Those with a college education are often better equipped to weather economic downturns and remain employed. The educational attainment rate in Louisville does not fully explain the state of the area’s labor market, however. Across the metro area, 4.1% of the labor force are out of work, lower than the 4.7% national unemployment rate.

Earning a college degree is one of the best ways to expand opportunities, especially to higher-paying jobs. The relatively low bachelor’s degree attainment rate in Louisville partially explains income levels across the metro area population. The typical household in the Louisville metro area earns $52,898 a year, slightly below the $55,775 median income nationwide.

A higher bachelor’s degree attainment rate in a given metro area often means that a larger than typical share of area adults also have a high school diploma. Similarly, a lower than average bachelor’s degree attainment rate often accompanies a lower than average share of adults with at least a high school diploma.

There are exceptions, however. While adults in the Louisville metro area are less likely to have a bachelor’s degree than adults across the country as a whole, the area is home to a higher than typical share of adults with a high school diploma. Across Louisville, 89.6% of adults have completed high school, compared to 87.1% of American adults.