Study: Grand Rapids millennials earn above average income

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Millennials working in Grand Rapids are earning above the national average, according to a recent report.

An analysis from HireAHelper found that in the Grand Rapids-Kentwood metropolitan area, millennials earn a cost-of-living adjusted median income of $43,384. Overall, Grand Rapids ranked No. 34 out of 53 classified large metros in the study.

Comparatively, the San Jose, California, metro ranked at the top of the list with a median adjusted income of $60,201 for millennials and a cost of living 4.9% above the national average. The Miami, Florida, metro ranked at the bottom with a median adjusted income of $31,847 and a cost of living 9.9% above the national average.

Numbering over 72 million, millennials have surpassed baby boomers to be the largest living adult generation, according to the study. Millennials, defined by the Pew Research Center as people born between 1981-96, now are in their prime home-buying years. However, millennial homeownership rates have lagged behind 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 2½ fold since 1980; however, housing prices have more than tripled over the same time.

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 2008-09 recession, they have been rising rapidly since 2012.

Regional data compared to national average

  • Median income for full-time millennials (cost-of-living adjusted): $43,384 ($42,000 nationally)
  • Median income for full-time millennials (unadjusted): $40,000 ($42,000 nationally)
  • Median home price: $241,965 ($259,906)
  • Millennial homeownership rate: 49.1% (39.9%)
  • Cost of living: 7.8% below national average

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.

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