The DC Metro Area Is the 6th Best-Paying for Millennials


Numbering over 72 million, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers to be the largest living adult generation. Millennials, defined by the Pew Research Center as people born between 1981–1996, are now in their prime home-buying years. However, millennial homeownership rates have lagged that of older generations—in part, because while home prices have been rising, income has not kept pace. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, median annual income for full-time working millennials was $42,000 in 2019, leaving many millennials struggling to afford a home.

Nationally, data from the Census Bureau shows that while the homeownership rate in the U.S. was 64.6% in 2019, the rate for millennials was just 39.9%. The median income for 25 to 34 year olds has increased 2.5-fold since 1980; however, housing prices have more than tripled over the same time period. Median income growth for that age group kept pace with housing prices until the year 2000 when housing prices began to rise more steeply. Although housing prices dropped significantly during the Great Recession, they have been rising rapidly since 2012.

At the state level, millennials living in Minnesota and Massachusetts had the highest median incomes after adjusting for cost of living, at $51,282 and $50,137 in 2019, respectively. Due to its very high cost of living, millennials living in Hawaii tend to earn less with a cost-of-living adjusted median income of $37,849 last year. The cost of living in Florida is about the same as the national average, but millennials in Florida earned just $34,990 in adjusted median income, the lowest in the country.

To find the best-paying metropolitan areas for millennials, researchers at HireAHelper analyzed the latest data on income and home prices from the U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the cost-of-living adjusted median income for full-time working millennials. Researchers also calculated the unadjusted median income for full-time millennials, the median home price, and the millennial homeownership rate.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, separate rankings were generated for small (100,000–349,999 residents), midsize (350,000–999,999 residents), and large (1,000,000 or more residents) metros.

The analysis found that in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan area, millennials earn a cost-of-living adjusted median income of $50,934. Out of all large metros, DC is the 6th best-paying for millennials. Here is a summary of the data for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metro area:

  • Median income for full-time millennials (cost-of-living adjusted): $50,934
  • Median income for full-time millennials (unadjusted): $60,000
  • Median home price: $455,038
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 38.0%
  • Cost of living (compared to the national average): +17.8%

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Median income for full-time millennials (cost-of-living adjusted): $42,000
  • Median income for full-time millennials (unadjusted): $42,000
  • Median home price: $259,906
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 39.9%
  • Cost of living (compared to the national average): N/A

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on HireAHelper’s website:

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