The median annual earnings for full-time working millennials in the U.S. was $40,000 in 2018, about 16 percent lower than the median for all workers of $48,000. Across major metropolitan areas, unadjusted millennial earnings ranged from a low of $25,000 per year to a high of $71,000 per year in San Jose, CA.
Of course, the cost of living varies widely by metro, from a low of 19 percent below average to a high of 31 percent above average. After adjusting for cost of living, the range in earnings narrows from a low of approximately $28,000 per year to a high just over $54,000 annually.
While locations with higher living costs tend to offer higher wages, sometimes wage gains don’t make up for the increased cost, as is the case with San Diego, CA. On the other hand, in metropolitan areas like San Francisco, CA and San Jose, CA higher wages more than make up for increased expenses.
The inverse is also true in low-cost areas. For example, wages can be so depressed that despite lower living costs, residents still experience below-average purchasing power. This is true for Memphis, TN, San Antonio, TX and Tucson, AZ. Fortunately, many low-cost cities offer strong enough wages to boost purchasing power above average, as is the case with many large Midwestern metropolitan areas, such as Minneapolis, MN and Columbus, OH.
While one might expect that cities offering the most purchasing power would attract more residents, the analysis found no significant correlation between adjusted millennial earnings and population growth. Across the best-paying cities for millennials, there’s a wide range in growth rates. For example, Austin, TX grew 15 percent over the past five years, whereas Pittsburgh, PA saw a population decline.
To determine the best-paying cities for millennials, Fabric analyzed data from the U.S.