A recent analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau found that, today, more than 90 percent of Americans age 25 and older hold a high school diploma or higher. Since 1997, the fastest climb has been among Hispanic populations, though this group still holds these degrees at a lower rate than the country’s primary racial groups: white, black, and Asian.

A look at how the data plays out within metro Atlanta (which changed from a 28-county area to today’s 29-county area in 2013) reveals a slightly different story. The graph below shows that, in 2008, 60 percent of Hispanics in the metro held a high school diploma or higher, compared to 87 percent of black/African-Americans, 86.4 percent of Asians and 91.2 percent of whites. Fast-forward to 2016, and the numbers have nudged forward slightly: 90 percent of black/African-Americans, 87.1 percent of Asians, 92.6 percent of whites and 62.2 percent of Hispanics held a high school diploma or higher. On one hand, Hispanics in the MSA are not seeing the same gains in educational attainment that those in the rest of the country are. On the other hand, black/African-Americans in the MSA fare slightly better than the national rate, which the Census estimated is 87 percent.


The Census Bureau found that nativity played a role in outcomes. The graph below shows how this plays out in Metro Atlanta, with the rate of foreign-born residents holding a high school diploma or higher hovering around 75 percent between 2008 and 2016. The rate of native-born, on the other hand, stays stably higher, at around 90 percent over the same time period.