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Mass. Census Numbers Show Highly Educated Residents, Racial Disparities05:16
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Census numbers for Massachusetts show that while many state residents are highly educated, there are still some disparities along racial and ethnic lines.

Many areas of the state have high levels of highly educated people. Thirty-eight percent of Massachusetts residents now hold a bachelor's degree — the highest percentage of any state in the country — and 14 percent higher than the national average.

This sets the state up well for a quick recovery when the economy turns around, according to Marc Draisen, executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Draisen spoke about the Census numbers on Thursday's Morning Edition.

"Areas with high educational attainment tend to keep and attract employers to a greater degree than other areas, and that's very positive," Draisen said.

But, he said, there are still some causes for concern.

"If you break this down by municipality or region, or if you break it down by racial and ethnic groups, we still see tremendous disparities, and that can be a problem, especially because the state is becoming a state with a higher immigrant and minority population," he said. "It's very important to try and focus on educational attainment in those areas."

While the percentage of Massachusetts residents without a high school degree has fallen overall — it now stands at 11 percent — among Hispanics, that number stands at 36 percent.

"There are still very significant disparities among different parts of the state and among racial and ethnic groups, but overall there have been improvements throughout," Draisen said. "And that's very good news for the hopes that we have for getting out of this recession."

This program aired on December 16, 2010.

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Bob Oakes has been WBUR's Morning Edition anchor since 1992.

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