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Watch as a College Degree Goes from Rare to Super Common in 40 Years

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Does it seem like everyone from the interns at work to the Starbucks barista to the guy playing jazz sax outside the subway station has a college degree these days?

It's not just in your head.

The GIF below, posted to Reddit Saturday by metricmapsore, pulls USDA educational data to show the bachelor degree's climb towards ubiquity in the U.S.

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In 1970, college graduates made up less than 10 percent of the population of huge swathes of the country, the map shows.

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In only a few regions — the San Francisco Bay Area, parts of Colorado and Washington, D.C. — did folks who had completed four years of college approach one-third of the population.

By 1990, the picture had dramatically changed...

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...and by 2012, most of the Northeastern U.S. and huge chunks of the rest of the country had more than 30 percent of their populations holding bachelor's degrees.

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The dramatic increase in educational attainment might seem like good news, but many graduates have been left in debt and without skills needed to seize good jobs — if those jobs exist in the first place.

The Project on Student Debt estimated seven in 10 recent college graduates carried student debt, with an average total of nearly $30,000 each.

College costs have risen astronomically over the past few decades, while PBS pegged the percentage of American jobs that require bachelor's degrees to be somewhere between 20 and 35 percent — meaning the U.S. economy might not have work for many more college grads.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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