Top Five Cities for Gen Y Workers

By Alida Moore,

Gen Y, Millennials, the Internet generation -- where are these young workers, known for their love of gadgets and dislike of 8 a.m. meetings, most likely to find the best job opportunities and salaries?

Online salary database’s recent “Gen Y on the Job” report ranks the top 20 cities for Gen Y workers. To determine the rankings, PayScale looked at private-sector wage growth in that metro, as well as Gen Y-specific factors, including median earnings, commute time and percent of Gen Y employees in that town. What do the winning locations have in common?

“The top cities for Gen Y workers offer relatively high pay, numerous job opportunities and good wage growth since the end of the recession,” says Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at PayScale. “Wage growth is a signal for labor demand. In today's economy, any city that is actively hiring is attractive to Gen Y.”

Curious where this text-don’t-call crew is likely to settle? In the following list, we share the top five cities for workers between the ages of 18 and 30, along with the median Gen Y pay and the most recent annual wage growth for all workers in that city.

1. Seattle
Median Gen Y Pay: $44,000
Annual Wage Growth: 4.4 Percent

Gen Y workers are known for being tech-savvy and obsessed with social media, making the Emerald City a mecca for them. “Seattle has experienced tremendous wage growth since the end of the Great Recession due largely to a booming tech industry,” Bardaro says. Whether they are finding work at large corporations or branching off to start their own companies, Gen Y workers in retro raincoats and skinny jeans are a common sight in this city.

Find jobs in Seattle.

2. Houston
Median Gen Y Pay: $44,000
Annual Wage Growth: 4.3 Percent

From trucks to hair, everything is bigger in Texas, and the oil and gas industry is no exception. “The oil and gas industry in Houston has seen record profits, which translate to higher wages for workers, which means more job opportunities for other workers in Houston as money cycles through the local economy,” Bardaro explains. Houston is large and diverse, making it attractive to the Internet generation.

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3. Minneapolis
Median Gen Y Pay: $42,800
Annual Wage Growth: 3.3 Percent

“Minneapolis is an urban center where people can afford to live close to work, which is good for Gen Y because it places them in the middle of the action,” Bardaro says. With an average commute time of just over 20 minutes, Gen Y employees can work close to home and have time to enjoy all the attractions and outdoor activities this thriving metropolis has to offer.

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4. Washington, DC
Median Gen Y Pay: $49,500
Annual Wage Growth: 3.2 Percent

Washington, DC, offers the highest median pay for Gen Y, giving the city a reputation for having “exploding pockets,” according to Bardaro. Because the demand for labor is high, pay is competitive. Gen Y workers can find a diversity of opportunities in our nation’s capital, in both the public and private sectors.

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5. Boston
Median Gen Y Pay: $46,200
Annual Wage Growth: 3.3 Percent

“The relatively high wage growth in Boston is due to [its] large presence of biotech, which is an industry that has been flourishing,” Bardaro says. According to PayScale data, bioengineering is the second most common major among Gen Y workers, making Boston an appealing landing spot. Bardaro cautions Gen Y workers to look at the big picture, however. “Workers in Boston might be paid higher salaries, but the cost of living in Boston is also notoriously steep. Be sure you examine all factors about a city before making the decision to move.”

Find jobs in Boston.

Source: All salary data provided by online salary database Salaries listed are median, annual salaries for workers between the ages of 18 and 30 in a particular metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Earnings include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing. Annual wage growth is defined as wage growth in an MSA for all full-time, private-sector workers between Q2 2011 and Q2 2012.

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