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Chicago Ranks in Middle for 'Brainpower'

By Paul Tooher

Students in Chicagoland appear to be getting the message: It pays to stay in school. Stay in school.

According to The Business Journal’s brainpower rankings, the Windy City ranked 28th out of the 102 markets surveyed. The ranking was based on the percentage of adults who have a high school diploma, a college degree and an advanced degree.

According to survey, 86.6 percent of Chicago adults have a high school diploma while 34.4 percent possess a college degree and 13.1 percent hold advance degrees.

And DeKalb did even better, with 90.5 percent of residents 25 or older having a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while 35.2 percent of DeKalb residents have a college degree or higher.

Nationally, 85.7 percent of Americas have a high school diploma while 28.5 percent have a college degree or higher, according to the Census Bureau.

For those looking to find a home close to where brainpower is highest, Washington, D.C., topped the list, followed by Madison, Wis., Bridgeport, Conn., Boston, San Jose, Calif., Durham, N.C., San Francisco, Raleigh, N.C., Minneapolis and Colorado Springs, Colo.

McAllen, Texas, has the lowest ranking, behind Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto and Stockton, all in California, El Paso, Texas, San Bernardino, Calif., Lakeland, Fla., Las Vegas and Youngstown, Ohio.

A college degree can pay big dividends over a lifetime.

The Business Journals cited a Census Bureau report finding that a worker who holds a bachelor's degree will typically earn 77 percent more than a colleague who didn't go beyond high school. And a person with a master's degree will earn 17 percent more than an individual with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science.

The following are the estimated average lifetime earnings for workers with different levels of degrees or diplomas, according to the Census Bureau:
-- Professional degree, $4.2 million;
-- Doctoral degree, $3.5 million;
-- Master's degree, $2.8 million;
-- Bachelor's degree, $2.4 million;
-- Associate's degree, $1.8 million;
-- High school graduate, $1.4 million
-- High school dropout, $1.1 million.

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