Washington, D.C., is the fifth-best U.S. region for millennials, ranking No. 1 in education, civic engagement and health, as well as No. 2 for quality of life, according to an April 4 ranking by WalletHub.
WalletHub, a D.C.-based personal finance website, compared all 50 states and the District based on 24 categories, including average monthly earnings, the number of reported depression cases and voter turnout rates.
The study found the average levels of education and health in the District make it an ideal region for millennials, an age group characterized as individuals born between 1981 and 1997.
However, the District performed poorly in affordability and economic health, ranking No. 46 and No. 20 in those categories, respectively.
States received a grade out of 100, with D.C. scoring 61.75, placing behind North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.
West Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama were ranked as the three worst states for millennials.
WalletHub used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Housing and Urban Development to accumulate data to score the regions.
Richie Bernardo, the senior writer at WalletHub who authored the report, said millennials are now the largest generation in the United States and account for 21 percent of all consumer discretionary spending.
The report said millennials are less economically stable than their parents were at a similar age, a contributing factor in where millennials decide to live. WalletHub’s research found that millennials are earning 20 percent less than the Baby Boomer generation, which are adults between 53 and 71, did at the same age.
“The financial crisis remains a big part of the reason,” Bernardo wrote in the report. “Millennials have come of age and entered the workforce in the shadow of the Great Recession, significantly reducing their job prospects.”
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez noted this inability to improve one’s personal economic situation has resulted in more millennials living at home.
“That’s why more and more of them are still living with their parents, on average, about a third of them,” Gonzalez said in an interview with The Hoya.
Gonzalez said D.C.’s low affordability hurt its ranking, but said there were reasons for optimism for millennials.
“D.C. is quite restrictive when it comes to affordability, but it still continues to offer some of the best opportunities for millennials when it comes to education, health and quality of life,” Gonzalez said. “D.C. will continue to attract millennials, even though it has a high cost of living.”
Joaquin McPeek, communications director for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, said the mayor’s office expected the result.
“We can point to a number of reasons, but most importantly because our economy is strong and we have good paying jobs,” McPeek said. “We’re rapidly expanding private sector jobs, and the District has all the elements that attract millennials.”
McPeek also said factors like easy access to public transportation and the ability to walk and bike to major attractions explain the millennial appeal of D.C., showing the city is no longer simply a government town.
“Millennials are opting less for ownership — home ownership and vehicles,” McPeek said. “We have one of the highest per capita park land in the country as well. It’s green, walkable, transit-friendly and bike-friendly, too.”