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BBJ: Boston is thriving — and that's a problem for millennials

May 24, 2017

When Massachusetts was named the best state in the country by U.S. News and World Report earlier this year, it was just the latest feather in the cap for a state that's been a continuing economic powerhouse.

But there's a downside: Millennials, who have been flocking to Greater Boston in droves, are facing a region with a dearth of affordable housing and "lagging economic opportunity," according to a new survey conducted by the the Boston Foundation's Boston Indicators project, with the Boston Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 1,600 millennials based in Greater Boston took part in the survey.

Millennials, defined as those between the ages of 18 and 37, were "quick to point out many of the region’s assets, including its stellar cultural offerings and the increasing diversity of Greater Boston’s people," the report noted. But the region faces steep housing costs and "a local economy that does not provide equal opportunity for every racial and ethnic group."

With a full 34 percent of its population between the ages of 20 and 34, Boston has the highest concentration of millennials among the 25 largest U.S. cities, the Chamber report said.

"Considering their relative prominence," the report noted, "Greater Boston’s future depends in no small part on ensuring that millennials have the opportunity to reach their full potential while contributing to our communities and economy over the long term.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

  • Housing is one of the most important issues facing millennials in the city. "The majority of surveyed millennials who do not own a home hope to buy one in Greater Boston, but are hindered by the area’s expensive housing market." In fact, half of renters pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing in Boston, the report noted.
  • A racial divide in income. "Black and Latino millennials in our survey are most likely to report having incomes insufficient to meet their needs," the report said.
  • Fast-growing population. "The young adult populations in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville grew much faster from 2000 to 2015 than did the total population in each of these cities."
  • "The millennial population is more educated than the area’s previous young adult populations. In Boston, for example, the share of young adults with a college degree grew from 52 percent to 65 percent from 2000 to 2015."
  • Millennials aren't worried about the Boston economy specifically, but they are concerned about unequal opportunity. "A full 80 percent in the survey said they believed that Greater Boston’s economy will do well or very well in the future. In every racial and ethnic group, at least two-thirds of respondents agreed on this point." But, the report notes, more than 70 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that there are plenty of economic opportunities for people from every socioeconomic background in Boston.

Read this article online at BizJournals.com