Gilmer Free Press

WV listed as second worst state for Millennials

The Free Press WV

West Virginia ranks second worst in the nation for Millennials, according to a recent WalletHub report, but not all of the news was bad.

If young people are looking for cheap housing, the Mountain State is an attractive option, the report said.

The report by WalletHub, a credit score and credit report company, notes that Millennials have trillion-dollar purchasing power and high educational attainment, but are economically worse off than their parents. Millennials are defined as people born between 1981 and 1997.

“The financial crisis remains a big part of the reason,” the report said. “Millennials have come of age and entered the workforce in the shadow of the Great Recession, which has significantly reduced their job prospects and earning potential for decades to come.

“By one estimate, Millennials today earn 20 percent less than Baby Boomers did at the same age.”

The report determined the best and worst areas for Millennials based on 30 metrics including share of Millennials, Millennial unemployment rate and Millennial voter turnout rate.

The report also determined most livable places on factors of affordability, education and health, quality of life, economic health and civic engagement. Each category was graded on a 100-point scale with a score of 100 as the most favorable conditions.

Overall, West Virginia ranked 50th with New Mexico in last place. The District of Columbia, meanwhile grabbed the top spot.

West Virginia ranked at the bottom in quality of life and economic health rank. It ranked 49th in civic engagement and 36th in education and health.

West Virginia ranked 50th when it came to the percentage of millennials as the Mountain State has experienced a population decline for several years. It also has an aging population. In 2016, West Virginia was the fourth oldest state in 2016 with a median age of 42.2.

Among the good news, West Virginia ranked higher on the list in affordability, listed at 19th. High points of the study were in housing affordability. West Virginia ranked second in the nation for lowest housing costs for Millennials and second highest in Millennial homeownership rate.

Natalie Roper, executive director of Generation West Virginia said she sees the challenges the state faces in attracting and retaining the younger population. However, she also sees opportunity to find solutions.

“We know West Virginia has challenges and everyone who is here knows the challenges we are facing and they are here anyway to find solutions,” she said. “I look at these lists and I’m more inspired to just keep working and focus on the potential that I see for West Virginia and keep working on developing programs to attract and retain young people. Our work is not done and lists like these remind us of that.”

Roper said she was encouraged by the state’s affordability ranking. 

“West Virginia is in the top five states in affordability and home ownership,” she said. “I look at both of those to see how can we capitalize on the assets we already have — to really take advantage of the potential the state can offer for young people who may not want to live in larger places and instead live somewhere where they can own their own houses and can be part of their communities. It wasn’t all bad news.”

Roper said West Virginia has a lot to offer, especially to those who see challenges as opportunities.

“We are a great place for young people who want to be adaptive and innovative leaders who see these rankings as a chance to innovate,” she said. “It doesn’t highlight the opportunity for young people to pilot solutions for challenges facing the entire country. We are making ideas and coming up with ideas in West Virginia that are gaining national attention.”

She mentioned Generation West Virginia’s Impact Fellowship program as one example of a way Generation West Virginia is working to change the state’s statistics. The Impact Fellowship launched last September. People selected for the program accepted one-year, paid fellowships with in-state employers. The program doubled in size this year, offering 17 fellowship positions.

The fellowship recently was selected a finalist in Fast Company’s 2018 World Changing Ideas Award in the General Excellence category. Fast Company received nearly 1,400 entries for 12 award categories.

“Despite these rankings, we know there is demand for young people who want to be part of solving the challenges this list talks about when we see 300 people apply to this fellowship — people from all over the world — to be part of a program where they can not only gain access to careers but also gain access to make a difference.”

~~  Andrea Lannom ~~

--> Sunday, April 15, 2018
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