Cities Where Millennials Make the Most Money

In May 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the price changes for a “market basket” of consumer goods and services, rose 2.8% over the last 12 months. This represented a significant increase in inflation, which is at a six-year high, and contributed to the stagnation of real wages, which remained unchanged year over year.

These economic trends affect all demographics, but they’ve been particularly challenging for millennials, who—with mounting student debt, rising housing costs, and the aftermath of the 2008 recession still lingering—are in a tough spot financially. In fact, it used to be that almost all children would earn more than their parents had at a particular age. Today, that number is around 50 percent.

With many millennials facing financial difficulties, the credit score and financial management platform Credit Sesame, wanted to find out where millennials are making the most money. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Credit Sesame calculated the average income for employed millennials (between the ages of 18 and 35) for the largest 100 metropolitan statistical areas. Its researchers then adjusted the results by cost-of-living differences so that cities could be accurately compared.

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Credit Sesame found that unadjusted incomes for millennials range significantly across the top 100 metropolitan areas—from a low of $25,690 in McAllen, TX to a high of $57,410 in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA. When adjusted for cost of living, the range is tighter but still shows significant variation. Interestingly, in only two metro areas (both in the Bay Area) did the unadjusted millennial average income surpass the national average income for all adults. Here are the 25 metros where millennials earn the most, ranked by cost-of-living adjusted income.

Photo Credit: incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo

25. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $36,753
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $38,150
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $59,716
  • Millennial share of working population: 37%
  • Regional price difference: 3.8% higher
  • Population: 9,533,040

Photo Credit: Andriy Kravchenko / Alamy Stock Photo

24. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,011
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $39,232
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $61,005
  • Millennial share of working population: 38%
  • Regional price difference: 6% higher
  • Population: 2,888,227

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

23. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,033
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $34,960
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $52,529
  • Millennial share of working population: 39%
  • Regional price difference: 5.6% lower
  • Population: 1,903,045

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

22. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,294
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $35,168
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $54,433
  • Millennial share of working population: 35%
  • Regional price difference: 5.7% lower
  • Population: 2,333,367

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

21. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,348
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $45,565
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $68,184
  • Millennial share of working population: 36%
  • Regional price difference: 22% higher
  • Population: 20,320,876

Photo Credit: 4k-Clips / Alamy Stock Photo

20. Oklahoma City, OK

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,351
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $34,214
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $50,597
  • Millennial share of working population: 41%
  • Regional price difference: 8.4% lower
  • Population: 1,383,737

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

19. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,373
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $37,971
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $58,621
  • Millennial share of working population: 38%
  • Regional price difference: 1.6% higher
  • Population: 6,892,427

Photo Credit: Michelle Himes Studio / Alamy Stock Photo

18. Columbus, OH

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,460
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $34,838
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $54,150
  • Millennial share of working population: 40%
  • Regional price difference: 7% lower
  • Population: 2,078,725

Photo Credit: Paul Brady / Alamy Stock Photo

17. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,566
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $33,998
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $48,772
  • Millennial share of working population: 38%
  • Regional price difference: 9.5% lower
  • Population: 738,344

Photo Credit: Dave Newman / Alamy Stock Photo

16. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,595
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $35,527
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $55,089
  • Millennial share of working population: 38%
  • Regional price difference: 5.5% lower
  • Population: 645,911

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

15. Charleston-North Charleston, SC

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,718
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $36,285
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $53,250
  • Millennial share of working population: 41%
  • Regional price difference: 3.8% lower
  • Population: 775,831

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

14. Raleigh, NC

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,751
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $36,203
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $59,667
  • Millennial share of working population: 36%
  • Regional price difference: 4.1% lower
  • Population: 1,335,079

Photo Credit: rudi1976 / Alamy Stock Photo

13. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $37,997
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $34,045
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $54,562
  • Millennial share of working population: 36%
  • Regional price difference: 10.4% lower
  • Population: 2,179,082

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

12. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $38,254
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $42,501
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $69,189
  • Millennial share of working population: 37%
  • Regional price difference: 11.1% higher
  • Population: 4,836,531

Photo Credit: PhotoImage / Alamy Stock Photo

11. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $38,393
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $39,276
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $60,031
  • Millennial share of working population: 38%
  • Regional price difference: 2.3% higher
  • Population: 3,600,618

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

10. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $38,395
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $35,630
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $52,740
  • Millennial share of working population: 38%
  • Regional price difference: 7.2% lower
  • Population: 2,028,614

Photo Credit: Gino’s Premium Images / Alamy Stock Photo

9. Kansas City, MO-KS

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $38,429
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $36,008
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $53,059
  • Millennial share of working population: 37%
  • Regional price difference: 6.3% lower
  • Population: 2,128,912

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

8. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $38,483
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $41,254
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $64,005
  • Millennial share of working population: 36%
  • Regional price difference: 7.2% higher
  • Population: 2,808,175

Photo Credit: Matt Bills / Alamy Stock Photo

7. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $38,534
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $35,990
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $53,405
  • Millennial share of working population: 37%
  • Regional price difference: 6.6% lower
  • Population: 933,316

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $39,081
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $46,545
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $73,978
  • Millennial share of working population: 36%
  • Regional price difference: 19.1% higher
  • Population: 6,216,589

Photo Credit: Bennie Thornton / Alamy Stock Photo

5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $39,240
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $47,127
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $89,037
  • Millennial share of working population: 31%
  • Regional price difference: 20.1% higher
  • Population: 949,921

Photo Credit: be.you.tiful / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo

4. Austin-Round Rock, TX

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $39,716
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $39,716
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $60,299
  • Millennial share of working population: 41%
  • Regional price difference: Same as national average
  • Population: 2,115,827

Photo Credit: Andriy Kravchenko / Alamy Stock Photo

3. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $40,514
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $44,768
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $67,221
  • Millennial share of working population: 39%
  • Regional price difference: 10.5% higher
  • Population: 3,867,046

Photo Credit: Gang Liu / Alamy Stock Photo

2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $45,169
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $57,410
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $86,732
  • Millennial share of working population: 37%
  • Regional price difference: 27.1% higher
  • Population: 1,998,463

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

  • Average income for millennials (adjusted): $45,401
  • Average income for millennials (unadjusted): $56,615
  • Average income for all adults (unadjusted): $81,783
  • Millennial share of working population: 37%
  • Regional price difference: 24.7% higher
  • Population: 4,727,357

Methodology

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2016 American Community Survey 1-year Estimates. The average income for millennials was computed for all employed individuals between the ages of 18 and 35. The average income for all adults was computed for all employed individuals over age 18. The income reported is how much total money an individual obtains in a given year from a variety of sources. Earnings, primarily wages and salary from a job, are usually a major source of income. However, other sources of income can include child support, public assistance, annuities, money derived from rental properties, interest and dividends, and others.

Regional price differences used to calculate cost-of-living adjusted incomes are from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis 2016 Regional Price Parities by MSA. The millennial share of the working population is the number of employed individuals between 18 and 35 divided by the number of employed individuals over age 18.

Only the largest 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) by population are included in the analysis. The MSAs are ordered by their adjusted average millennial incomes.

 

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved.
Published July 16, 2018
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