Kentucky has made important strides to improve the percentage of the working-age population (ages 18-64) with a high school diploma or GED® test credential. Over 15 years, the state has improved its numbers from 21.1 percent without a high school credential to 12.9 percent, making Kentucky’s gain the largest in the nation, at 8.2 percentage points.

In 2000, Kentucky’s gap compared to the national average spanned four percent. By 2015, this gap had closed to less than one percent, at 0.7 percent.

Figure 1: KY population in 2000 without a high school diploma or GED test credential.
Figure 1: KY population in 2000 without a high school diploma or GED test credential.
Figure 2: KY population in 2015 without a high school diploma or GED test credential.
Figure 2: KY population in 2015 without a high school diploma or GED test credential.

Along with the increasing number of working-age Kentuckians earning their high school equivalency credential, other factors, such as increased high graduation rates, contribute to this measure.

However, it is crucial that Kentucky continue to improve its number of working-age population with a high school credential; ACS data (2015) indicates that there are still nearly 354,000 individuals in this population lacking a high school credential. Significant improvement is needed in this area to meet Kentucky’s workforce demands, as more employers require at least some postsecondary education for jobs.

Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE) Skills U is committed to ensuring that Kentucky adults have the opportunity to earn a GED® test credential – and beyond. A high school or GED® graduate earns an average of $9,776 more per year than a non-graduate, and the earnings increase as educational attainment levels increase. Of additional concern is the fact that low-skilled adults are two times more likely to be unemployed, three times as likely to be in poverty, four times as likely to be in poor health and eight times as likely to be incarcerated. Through their services, KYAE Skills U programs help individuals enact transformational, generational changes that not only affect the individuals themselves, but their families, their communities and the commonwealth-at-large. More information about these services can be found here.