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Where Are the Best Places for Millennials to Live and Work?

Younger workers are likelier to seek new cities for career advancement. Here are the Top 10 metro areas based on job-relevant factors.

Article originally published in The New York Times By Michael Kolomatsky | January 23, 2020

Millennials, still in the earlier stages of their careers and less likely to be encumbered by the needs of children or spouses, may strongly consider relocation as they climb the professional ladder. But where are the best cities to work?

A new study by Commercialcafe ranked metro areas for millennials based on seven factors related to employment. For the purposes of the study, “millennials” were defined as people born between 1986 and 1995, and only metro areas with populations of at least 1 million were considered.

Each area was ranked in seven categories to determine a total score: Millennial population growth between 2014 and 2018, millennial population share, regional price parity (a cost-of-living comparison in which a score of 100 represents the national average), millennial unemployment rate, the share of millennials with employer-based health insurance, the share of working millennials with a bachelor’s degree, and average commuting time.

Metro areas in the South and Midwest scored well, aided by their lower living costs. The Raleigh, N.C., area, for example, came in below the national average on the 100-point price parity scale: 95.2. Columbus, Ohio, did even better, at 92.3.

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After all the data was crunched, Denver topped the list, with its low unemployment and high millennial population growth rate offsetting its higher cost of living (106.3 on the price parity scale) and relatively high average commuting time (28 minutes).

Below, the Top 10 places for millennial workers, based on the study, and two of the categories in which those places scored the highest.


1. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.

13% millennial population growth, 2014-18 • 3% millennial unemployment rate

2. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

17% millennial population share • 40% working millennials with a bachelor’s degree

3. Raleigh, N.C.

41% working millennials with a bachelor’s degree • 2% millennial unemployment rate

4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

14% millennial population growth, 2014-18

70% millennials with employer-based health insurance

5. Salt Lake City

23 minutes commuting time • 16% millennial population share

6. Columbus, Ohio

24 min. commuting time • 16% millennial population share

7. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich.

22 min. commuting time • 69% millennials with employer-based health insurance

8. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

11% millennial population, growth 2014-18 • 4% millennial unemployment rate

9. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore./Wash.

27 min. commuting time • 102 regional price parity score

10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

131 regional price parity score • 40% working millennials with a bachelor’s degree

Source: Commercialcafe