By David Flemming
Wallethub completed an extremely compelling survey which looks at the “best states for millennials.” Vermont didn’t do too shabby, coming in at No. 13 out of 51 states and Washington, D.C., for those age age 24-37. We ranked among the top 20 states for Education & Health, Quality of Life, Civic Engagement and Economic Health.
I am betting Vermont would be lower on Economic Health if Wallethub took into account our pension liabilities and recent credit downgrade, which are already beginning to eat away at our economic growth in the coming years. Regardless, the Affordability component paints a sobering, poignant picture of a Vermont that is out of reach to most millennials.
We ranked No. 49 in Affordability for millennials, coming in just ahead of the last two states, Rhode Island and Hawaii. The Affordability score is actually a composite score of several measures, including “monthly earnings,” “cost of living” and “cost of housing.” The study did not elaborate on Vermont’s “monthly earnings” score, but I was able to find a Business Insider report on millennial income that uses Census 2017 data. Vermont’s millennials made $38,000 on average in 2017, tied with Maine for the lowest millennial median income in New England.
Even if you buy into Vermont’s high ranking for Education & Health, Quality of Life and Civic Engagement, I doubt that the half of the Vermont millennials making $38,000 or less a year care all that much about such long-term considerations as education and civic engagement. If you can’t afford to live in Vermont, high voting rates and phenomenal education opportunities for your children don’t count for much.
Millennials living here can’t fully appreciate an education system and a more knowledgeable citizenry unless Vermont’s affordability improves. Millennials from other states are even more sensitive to such considerations. Vermont millennials trying to find a more affordable house are put off by the moving costs and inconvenience may dissuade native from leaving. But out-of-state millennials willing to consider a move to Vermont are even more sensitive to such concerns, eliminating Vermont from the running.
Vermont needs to fix its affordability problem.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.