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 Phoenix, Arizona metro area, the 29.4% share is slightly smaller the comparable national share. Across Arizona as a whole, some 27.7% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the lower shares compared to all states.

Of the seven metro area in Arizona, Phoenix’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate is the third highest.

Those with a college education are often better equipped to weather economic downturns and remain employed. The educational attainment rate in Phoenix does not fully explain the state of the area’s labor market, however. Across the metro area, 4.6% of the labor force are out of work, slightly 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 average bachelor’s degree attainment rate in Phoenix partially explains income levels across the metro area population. The typical household in the Phoenix metro area earns $55,547 a year, in line with $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.

Just as adults in the Phoenix metro area are less likely than most adults nationwide to have a four-year college degree, the area is also home to a lower than typical share of adults with a high school diploma. Across Phoenix, 86.5% of adults have completed high school, compared to 87.1% of American adults.