California is making only modest progress in increasing the numbers of adults who hold college degrees and will have to step up the pace to meet future workforce needs, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The report, A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education, by the nonprofit Lumina Foundation, found that 38.9% of the state’s 20 million adults age 25 to 64 held a two- or four-year degree in 2011, compared to 38.8% in 2010 and 38.7% in 2009.

The report used census and other data to track college attainment for every state and the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the nation.

California ranks 25th among states in college attainment, trailing the leader Massachusetts,  where 50.8% of adults had attained a degree.

Nationally, about 38.7% of working-age Americans hold a two- or four-year degree.

Lumina is leading an effort to increase that rate to 60% by 2025. At the current rate, California would fall about 3.8 million degrees short of that mark.

“Research from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce tells us that 61% of all California jobs will require postsecondary education by 2018,” Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina, said in a statement. “This means that California is now facing a troubling talent gap and significantly more graduates are needed to meet future workforce needs. New strategies are required to address this challenge and we urge more policymakers, business leaders and higher education institutions from across the state to mobilize around this important issue.”

The report also found that some California  communities are outpacing others in the number of adults who hold degrees.

California’s largest metro areas rank in the following order for adults (ages 25-64) with at least a two-year degree:

  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (54.15%)
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont (52.76%)
  3. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (44.04%)
  4. Sacramento — Arden-Arcade — Roseville (40.61%)
  5. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura (40.25%)
  6. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (39.01%)
  7. Fresno (27.90%)
  8. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (27.20%)
  9. Stockton (26.75%)
  10. Bakersfield-Delano (21.35%)

 

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carla.rivera@latimes.com