The Best and Worst States for Millennials

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Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are the demographic cohort born between 1981 and 1996. Ranging in age from 25 to 40, they were the first generation to come of age with the Internet and social media, but have also lived through the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror, the Great Recession, protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The ways in which COVID changed life in America — among other things bringing a significant portion of the workforce the ability to telecommute — have encouraged some millennials to reassess where and how they want to live. In addition, many now have or are planning families and want to make the best decisions for their children as well as themselves. These are 50 ways American life has changed in the last decade.

For those who want to make a move, some destinations are more hospitable than others. 24/7 Tempo has developed a list of the best and worst states for millennials, using data compiled by the credit reporting and advice site WalletHub. The site compared states across five key dimensions: affordability; education and health; quality of life; economic health; and civic engagement. The dimensions were evaluated using 34 variously weighted metrics, including everything from singles- and family-friendliness to share of millennial smokers and binge drinkers to average earnings and labor force participation rate grown for members of the generation.

The best and second-best states, according to the data, are Washington and Utah, which rank No. 1 for affordability and economic health, respectively. Washington is home to companies such as Starbucks and Microsoft, and its largest city, Seattle, is known for quality of life and civic engagement. Utah has a diversified economy covering industries such as tourism, mining, energy, agriculture,  and information technology. These are the states with the best and worst economies.

At the other end of the list are West Virginia and New Mexico. The former is situated in the rust belt and has traditionally been dependent on the out-of-favor coal mining industry. The latter is home to such attractive places as Santa Fe and Taos, but may be a victim of its success in attracting residents, as it scores poorly for affordability.