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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.

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.

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

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

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

FORT PITT BRIDGE, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES – 2016/10/06: City skyline and Fort Pitt Bridge. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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

 

WEEHAWKEN, NJ – APRIL 7: Hudson Yards rises on the west side of Manhattan next to the Hudson River in New York City as cars enter and exit the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey on April 7, 2018 as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yawkey Way at Fenway Park on April 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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

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

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

BALTIMORE, MD – DECEMBER 01: An aerial view of Baltimore City skyline on December 1, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.