Millennials are struggling. With rising student debt, stagnant wages, and avocado toast, many are working hard to hardly get by.
It is no surprise millennials are struggling financially. As a group, 24-39 years old earn less and have less assets than their parents did a generation ago. However, just like the job market and cost of living, where you live matters. We analyzed all 50 states and the District of Columbia to uncover where it is hardest for millennials to thrive.
Below we detail the criteria we used to rank the states and have the full ranked list. But first, let’s see the 10 states where millennials have it the roughest.
The south dominates this list with 5 of the top 10 being southern states. The other 5? Include some areas notorious for high costs of living or in economic distress.
Keep reading to see why these states have the least to offer millennials and to see the full list.
How We Determined The Worst States For Millennials
- Millennial Unemployment Rate
- Average Student Loan Debt
- Millennial Home Ownership
- Percent Of Millennials Living In Poverty
All four categories were then averaged together, each weighted equally. The lower score in each category, the lower the rank. For example, DC’s $55,400 was the highest average student loan debt, earning it a rank of #1 for student loan debt.
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We used the most recent American Community Survey 2014-2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau to get unemployment rate by state for those 25-34. The ACS data also provided the poverty rate by state for the 25-34 age demographic.
To analyze millennial home ownership, we once again used the ACS data to find the percentage of homeowners under 35 in each state.
To gather average student loan debt by millennial borrower, we used the most recent report from Educationdata.org.
If your state isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see where it lands on the full list. Otherwise, learn more about why these states are the worst place to be a millennial.
Poverty Rate: 29%
It is no surprise to see Mississippi top the list of worst places to be a millennial. Mississippi often comes in dead last in education and quality of life metrics. Why is it so hard being a millennial in
the Magnolia state?
More than 1-in-4 Mississippi millennials live in poverty, in addition to facing the worst unemployment in the nation. While housing in Mississippi is relatively affordable, it’s simply not enough to help the millennials struggling just to get by.
Poverty Rate: 22%
Florida may be a beloved destination for vacationers, but millennial residents may find themselves experiencing hardship. Not only do Floridian millennials stand a 22% chance of living in poverty, the state also the 3rd worst Millennial homeownership rate in the nation.
The beautiful surroundings can only provide so much comfort to adults striving to make a living.
Poverty Rate: 27%
Alabama comes in at #3 for the worst place to be a millennial. While unemployment for millennials is 2% lower than Mississippi, it’s still not great. 27% of Alabama millennials are below the federal poverty rate.
4. South Carolina
Poverty Rate: 22%
Just graduating college in South Carolina sets you up for an average $38,300 in student loan debt. Considering 7% of millennials are unemployed, it can’t be easy paying off those hefty student loan payments.
Poverty Rate: 21%
Georgia tells a similar story to other southern states that top the list– a high poverty rate, paired with less than stellar unemployment. Toss in the high average student debt and it’s easy to see it isn’t all peaches for millennials in the peach state.
6. North Carolina
Poverty Rate: 22%
North Carolina has similar stats to its neighbor, South Carolina- paired with worst homeownership and slightly less crippling debt.
7. West Virginia
Poverty Rate: 32%
West Virginia is one of the states with a shrinking population. Every year residents are packing up and moving in hopes of a brighter future. Millennials in West Virginia have the highest poverty rate in the nation, with a depressing 1-3 live below the poverty level).
Pair that with sky high unemployment, and chances are pretty good wherever they move, the grass is greener.
8. New Mexico
Poverty Rate: 27%
Why is it so rough being a millennial in New Mexico? A terrible 8% unemployment rate. Since jobs make creature comforts affordable, like food and shelter, this doesn’t bode well for millennials who call New Mexico home.
Poverty Rate: 23%
In Oregon, more millennials are working than most other states. However judging from dismal homeownership rate and a surprisingly high poverty rate, folks are working just to get by in Oregon.
Poverty Rate: 20%
California may be the golden state, but for millennials living there may not look so shiny. High home costs mean home ownership is out of reach for many millennials. When paired with high unemployment and an unpleasantly high poverty rate, it earns California its spot at #10.
Some states offer Millennials worst opportunities than others
There you have it, the 10 states where millennials have the hardest time thriving.
At the end of the day, millennials are struggling nationwide. However, some states have less job opportunities, higher costs of living, and other blockers to achieving the American Dream– or even just not living in desperate poverty.
Where should millennials go for the best opportunities? Out west! Western states dominate the top 10 best states for millennials.
Best States For Millennials
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
If your state wasn’t in the top 10, you can see where it landed below.
See Where Your State Fell On The List:
|Rank||Geographic Area Name||Unemployment(%)||Poverty Rate(%)||Homeownership(%)||Student Debt|
|37||District of Columbia||5||10||12||$55,400|
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