15 Best-Paying Cities for Generation Z

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Self.

Generation Z — or Gen Z for short — is the generation succeeding millennials that represents about 20% of the U.S. population. The Brookings Institute’s definition of Gen Z is people born between 1997 and 2012, the oldest of whom are now just beginning their careers.

While members of Gen Z currently account for less than 5% of the U.S. full-time workforce, this number will increase rapidly in the coming decades.

Naturally, because the oldest Gen Zers are just starting out in their careers, they tend to earn less than their older counterparts. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the national median wage for full-time Gen Zers was $26,000 in 2020, just slightly more than half of the median wage for all full-time workers ($50,000).

To determine the best-paying metropolitan areas for Gen Zers, researchers at Self Financial analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. You can read about our methodology at the end.

Following are the best-paying cities for members of Gen Z.

15. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $30,236

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $31,200

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $60,000

Cost of living (compared to average): +3.2%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 4.4%

14. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

Louisville, Kentucky
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $30,465

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $28,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -8.1%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 5.4%

13. Lancaster, PA

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $30,465

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -1.5%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 8.1%

12. Springfield, MA

Springfield, Massachusetts
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $30,630

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $54,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -2.1%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 4.6%

11. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $30,700

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -2.3%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 6.7%

10. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $30,718

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $29,100

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -5.3%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 4.7%

9. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Cincinnati
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $31,024

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $29,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $51,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -6.5%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 4.9%

8. Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $31,094

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -3.5%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 4.1%

7. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $31,272

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -4.1%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 5.5%

6. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

Omaha Nebraska
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $31,476

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -4.7%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 5.4%

5. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis, Indiana
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $31,677

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $30,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $50,000

Cost of living (compared to average): -5.3%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 5.1%

4. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston skyline summer day.
Danica Chang / Shutterstock.com

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $31,755

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $35,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $70,000

Cost of living (compared to average): +10.2%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 3.2%

3. Worcester, MA-CT

Worcester, Massachusetts
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $32,203

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $32,400

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $60,000

Cost of living (compared to average): +0.6%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 3.9%

2. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

Albany, New York
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $32,204

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $32,300

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $60,000

Cost of living (compared to average): +0.3%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 3.5%

1. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

Bridgeport, Connecticut
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Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (adjusted): $37,884

Median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers (actual): $40,000

Median annual wage for all full-time workers (actual): $72,000

Cost of living (compared to average): +5.6%

Gen Z share of the labor force: 3.5%

Methodology

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To determine the best-paying metropolitan areas for Gen Zers, researchers at Self analyzed earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample and cost-of-living data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’s 2020 Regional Price Parity dataset. Metro areas were ranked by the cost-of-living adjusted median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers. In the event of a tie, the metro with the higher unadjusted median annual wage for full-time Gen Zers was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the median annual wage for all full-time workers, and Gen Z’s share of the full-time labor force. The Brookings Institution defines Gen Z as people born from 1997 to 2012. This analysis focuses on full-time Gen Z workers who were 16 to 23 in 2020. Only the 100 largest metros were included in the analysis.

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