- Millennials can have a significantly higher median salary in certain states.
- The East Coast has some of the highest median salaries for millennials.
- It’s worth considering location and growth opportunities within the state when job searching.
I have a political science degree — from the University of Victoria in 1987 — and graduated from UBC law school, as it was then called, in 1991. My educational background, as well as the timing of my career choices, likely appear to be an irrelevant lifetime ago for some readers.
But before you jump to that mistaken conclusion, I’d like you to consider this: Disruptive technologies combined with global trade sanctions suggest we’re once again heading into uncertain economic times. That was my reality when I was a new college graduate. These economic factors, together with GOBankingRates’ latest study on the median salaries millennials earn in every state, caused me to reflect back on my earlier career choices and how millennials can use this insight to further their careers and bank accounts.
Keep reading to learn more about the highest- and lowest-paying entry-level jobs.
How Location Can Affect Job Pay
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. However, it never crossed my mind to pursue my professional career there. Why? The paycheck. Back in 1991, first-year salaries for new lawyers looked something like this:
- $12,000-$14,000 in Victoria
- $16,000-$18,000 in Vancouver
- $36,000-$42,0000 in Toronto
With starting salaries ranging from pathetic to almost acceptable for the economic times — which is likely why all these years later I can recall the precise amounts — it is no wonder I declined any job interview requests outside of Toronto.
As a new graduate, the cost of living between the two major cities — Vancouver and Toronto — was not substantially different. My boyfriend and I paid $990 a month for our one-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto. In Vancouver, I split the rent on a modest two-bedroom that was nearly $900 per month. Personal expenses being equal, being able to deposit a substantially higher paycheck — combined with the potential for bigger career opportunities that came with living in Canada’s largest city — made the decision to initially pursue my career beyond Vancouver just so much easier.
Cities Millennials Should Consider for Optimal Careers
When I recently looked at the GOBankingRates’ study of millennials’ median salaries, I wondered, “If I was graduating in 2018, where would I pursue my career today?”
Taking median salaries and cost of living into account, plus future professional opportunities, here are three cities I’d take a serious look at:
Seattle: State median salary for millennials is $68,481
- The city is home to Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft. In spite of the bad rap for all the rain, the city is No. 10 on the U.S. News 125 Best Places to Live in the USA survey. There is also a growing startup community to satisfy the millennial urge to pursue more entrepreneurial endeavors or if they have an itch to simply switch jobs frequently.
Omaha, Neb.: State median salary for millennials is $59,886
- Berkshire Hathaway — No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list — is headquartered here. But Omaha is not just about Warren Buffett. Union Pacific, Kiewit and Mutual of Omaha are also headquartered here. The city is ranked at No. 28 on the U.S. News best places survey. Omaha has an emerging startup community, along with a thriving art, food and craft beer scene. Plus, the city is home to dynamic female-founded businesses such as Hello Holiday and Hardy Coffee Company.
Detroit: State median salary for millennials is $55,091
- A former industrial powerhouse intersects with the innovation economy in the new Motor City. General Motors — No. 10 on the Fortune 500 list — has invested heavily in ride-sharing services. Detroit has weathered some serious economic pain since going bankrupt back in 2013 and organizations such as TechTown Detroit have assisted in getting entrepreneurs and the city back on their feet. Detroit is listed at No. 86 on the U.S. News survey, which for this hockey fan, fails to take into account that the city is home to one of the original six NHL teams.
If money were the primary consideration in my job search, I’d take a closer examination of what Massachusetts, Maryland or New Jersey have to offer. The median salaries for millennials in those states range from $79,015 to $80,263. And if career choices were simply made for the love of a diverse, dynamic city, then New York City — with a median salary for millennials at $67,678 — would come out on the top of my city-to-launch-a-career list.
Click through to read more about what millennials consider the “American dream.”
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GOBankingRates looked at median millennial earnings across every state in the U.S. by using data from the United States Census Bureau for people in the working population between ages 25-44. GBR also looked at the median income in every state in order to see how millennial earnings compare to those of the state’s average.