Where Millennials Struggle the Most Financially in the United States

Written by Carly Hallman

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are individuals born from the early 1980s to the mid-to-late 1990s. Different sources have defined varying birth years for Millennials — PBS, CBS, ABC Australia, the American Psychological Association, and the Washington Post have all used 1981 to 1996, as does the Pew Research Center. Oxford Living Dictionaries describes a Millennial as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.” No matter how they are defined, Millennials are often a topic of heated, pessimistic discussion. With article titles like “America’s Millennials Are Waking Up to a Grim Future” by Bloomberg and “Millennials Are Screwed” by the Huffington Post, it is no wonder that this generation often suffers from disillusionment.

It’s important to note that America is a land of diverse, fluctuating opportunities — Millennials in some regions may fare far better than in others. This infographic examines where in the United States Millennials struggle the most financially using the Millennial Financial Struggle Index. It was created with the following data sets: average student debt per borrower by state, average Millennial salaries by state, estimated time to save for a house down payment (based on national Millennial median income), the relative value of $100 in every state, annual household income needed to afford a two-bedroom rental, unemployment rate by state, and WalletHub’s job opportunities by state index.

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Here are some additional highlights from our Millennial Financial Struggle Index analysis.

Top 5 States Where Millennials May Struggle the Most Financially:

  1. Hawaii (216.79)
  2. New York (186.93)
  3. Alaska (182.76)
  4. New Mexico (181.42)
  5. Oregon (167.14)

Top 5 States Where Millennials May Thrive the Most Financially:

  1. North Dakota (60.89)
  2. Nebraska (65.97)
  3. Iowa (66.51)
  4. Utah (82.53)
  5. Arkansas (82.92)


The Seven Factors That Went Into the Millennial Financial Struggle Index:


Let’s get even more granular!  Here are the states where Millennials will fare the worst based on all seven individual factors we took into consideration in the creation of our index:

The 5 States With the Highest Average Student Debt Per Borrower

1.     Pennsylvania $36,193.00
2.     Rhode Island $35,371.00
3.     Delaware $34,144.00
4.     New Hampshire $33,462.00
5.     Alabama $31,861.00

The 5 States With the Lowest Average Millennial Salaries

1.     Mississippi $31,900.00
2.     Alabama $32,000.00
3.     New Mexico $32,000.00
4.     South Carolina $32,400.00
5.     Montana $32,700.00

The 5 States With the Highest Estimated Time to Save For a House Down Payment for Millennials (Years)

1.     Hawaii 8.40
2.     California 8.00
3.     Oregon 6.40
4.     Colorado 6.20
5.     Montana 5.80

The 5 States With the Lowest Relative Value of $100

1.     Hawaii $84.46
2.     New York $86.51
3.     California $87.41
4.     New Jersey $88.34
5.     Maryland $91.32

The 5 States With the Highest Annual Household Income Needed to Afford a Two-Bedroom Rental

1.     Hawaii $75,158.00
2.     California $67,976.00
3.     New York $62,454.00
4.     New Mexico $62,454.00
5.     Maryland $60,406.00

The 5 States With the Highest Unemployment by State (by Percentage of Workforce)

1.     Alaska 6.50%
2.     New Mexico 5.10%
3.     West Virginia 5.10%
4.     Arizona 5.00%
5.     Mississippi 4.90%

The 5 Worst States to Find a Job (Based on WalletHub’s Job Opportunity Index)

1.     West Virginia 33.61
2.     Mississippi 39.92
3.     Kentucky 40.18
4.     Louisiana 41.38
5.     Pennsylvania 41.94

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