These Are the Best and Worst States to Live in for Millennials in 2022

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Plenty of millennials have been on the move since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. If you're looking to join their ranks, you might want to consider Washington — both the state and the District of Columbia — as a prime relocation spot.

That's according to a new study from personal finance website WalletHub, which published a report on Tuesday ranking the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. as the best and worst places for millennials – people roughly between the ages of 26 and 41 – to live right now. Washington state led the way, with Washington D.C. in second place and Massachusetts in third.

The report prioritized factors like affordability and healthy job markets, noting that while millennials are currently the largest U.S. generation – at least, until they soon likely cede that title to Generation Z – they've yet to build as much wealth as their parents did at the same age, partly due to being saddled with debt and having to endure both a recession and a pandemic during their early-career years.

Tourists take in a sunset over the Seattle, WA skyline.
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Tourists take in a sunset over the Seattle, WA skyline.

WalletHub's rankings also took quality of life, education, health and civic engagement statistics into account, ultimately weighing 34 different metrics — including, amusingly, "Average Starbucks Latte Price" — to create composite scores out of 100. Here's the top 10, according to the website's findings:

  1. Washington (67.45)
  2. District of Columbia (65.34)
  3. Massachusetts (63.72)
  4. Utah (62.90)
  5. Illinois (60.28)
  6. Minnesota (60.22)
  7. Oregon (58.90)
  8. Wisconsin (58.68)
  9. Virginia (57.82)
  10. Colorado (57.55)

Washington scored especially well in quality of life metrics, ranking second in that category behind the District of Columbia. The state's population already has the country's fourth-highest percentage of millennials, according to WalletHub, which used population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The Evergreen State also boasts the fourth-highest average earnings for millennials, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, helping it rank third in the economic health category. The state ranked sixth in terms of affordability.

The District of Columbia already has the country's highest concentration of millennial residents, and perhaps correspondingly scored highly in both the education and health categories. However, it ranked 27th — squarely middle of the pack — in affordability, with the lowest rate of homeownership among millennial residents.

Massachusetts scored well in the education and health categories, and was notably home to the highest percentage of millennials with health insurance. Massachusetts also scored the third-highest on average earnings for millennials.

The picture isn't nearly as rosy for the bottom of the list. Here are the 10 worst states for millennials to live in, according to the report:

  1. Mississippi (34.94)
  2. West Virginia (35.53)
  3. New Mexico (36.28)
  4. Arkansas (37.40)
  5. Louisiana (39.60)
  6. Nevada (39.86)
  7. South Carolina (40.76)
  8. Alaska (41.57)
  9. Oklahoma (41.63)
  10. Kentucky (41.94)

Mississippi earned poor marks in the quality of life, economic health, and education and health categories. WalletHub found that the Magnolia State had both the lowest average earnings for millennials and the highest millennial unemployment rate. The state also ranked 47th in terms of the percentage of millennials who have health insurance coverage.

West Virginia and New Mexico both ranked in the bottom five of average earnings for millennials, and both were bottom-five in rates of millennial unemployment. West Virginia also has the highest rate of millennials who suffer from depression, according to WalletHub's findings.

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