There are lots of stereotypes floating around about US millennials, not the least of which is that they all live in Brooklyn and San Francisco.
Turns out, that’s not quite true. A new analysis from the Brookings Institution breaks down the generational makeup of the 100 largest US metropolitan areas. At 75 million strong, millennials, now ages 21 to 37, are the largest working generation. Where they live and which places attract them don’t just reflect a generation’s desires. They also signal where the economy will grow. Young adults—and young workers—are critically important for local growth.
Surprisingly, the states with the highest percentage of millennials aren’t all on the coasts.
Here are the places with the highest shares:
The metro area with the largest share of millennials is the area in-and-around Provo, Utah. The city of is 43 miles from the state’s capital, Salt Lake City. It’s also one of the country’s fastest growing. Provo has boomed with pro-business policies and low corporate taxes. It’s also home to many students, with two big universities, Brigham Young and Utah Valley.
Below are the metropolitan areas with the lowest shares of millennials:
The metro areas of Florida have some of the lowest shares in the US. Florida is a popular retirement destination, with the highest share of senior citizens—17%—as of the last US census.
There’s a reason why San Francisco and New York feel so millennial. By sheer numbers, the millennial populations of California, Texas, and New York outpace the rest of the country. There are more millennials living in California than people residing in Switzerland, Denmark, or Finland. The number of New York millennials exceeds the population of New Zealand.
Some states just have large populations, across all generations. Factoring that in tells a slightly different story:
If the states with the highest share of millennials surprise you, that’s partly because their populations, overall, are small. Fewer than one million people live in Washington DC (681,000), Alaska (742,000), and North Dakota (758,000), but their millennial ranks (under a quarter of a million, each) are relatively large.
If young adults continue to live and move like they have since 2000, places like North Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii might soon feel even younger. From 2000 to 2010, these states saw the largest growth in their young adult (18 to 34) populations. The number of young adults grew by more than 20% in North Dakota. In comparison, California and New York’s young adult populations grew by less than 6% each.
Several factors can contribute to such demographic changes, like the inflow of young immigrants, state-to-state migration, or higher birth rates. North Dakota had the highest rate of in-migration of any state. From 2012 to 2015, North Dakota saw a 5.1% increase in the number of 25- to 29-year-olds residing in state. (The average national growth rate, over the same time period, was less than 2%.)
People who have migrated tend to be in their 20s or 30s. North Dakota is home to Microsoft’s second largest campus, as well as a growing oil and gas industry that brings in jobs.