The news is mixed for Salt Lake Millennials

Things have been good in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.  There are plenty of jobs, low unemployment and the cost of living including housing is still generally affordable.  A new data tool by the U.S. Census Bureau breaks down over 30 years of data from several key categories for the coveted 18-34 population group.  The census information shows that the Salt Lake Metro has its strengths but there are some warning signs for the Millennial generation that Salt Lake’s economic good times could be in danger.

The data tool looks at diversity, housing, education, employment and income data among other variables.  Utah’s three largest metro areas fare well in comparison to other metros.  Unsurprisingly, Provo has the youngest workforce in the country.  The metro area of nearly 540,000 is home to two large universities helping to keep its population fairly young with 32 percent of the area’s workforce between the ages of 18-34.  The Ogden-Clearfield metro has the second lowest poverty rate among the 18-34 year-old group and ninth highest percentage of employed Millennials.

Data table showing the percentage of the Salt Lake metro population between the age of 18 and 34.  Salt Lake is in blue.
Data table showing the percentage of the Salt Lake metro population between the age of 18 and 34. Salt Lake is in blue.

Salt Lake City scores high in a few categories.  Among Millennials, the Salt Lake Metro has the 10th lowest rate of poverty, the fifth highest percentage of employed Millennials and the seventh highest percentage of the population between the ages of 18 and 34.

The Salt Lake metro’s young population is to be expected as Utah has long had the youngest population in the country.  Utah’s low unemployment rate and business friendly climate has earned it the title of “best state for business” four out of the five years.  The high levels of employment for the Salt Lake and Ogden-Clearfield metro areas reflect Utah’s current economic prosperity.

But the census data reveals some warning signs for Millennials and the Salt Lake region.  Just  21.9 percent of Millennials have earned a Bachelors Degree, a half percentage point below the national average of 22.3 percent.  Provo and Ogden-Clearfield metros have even lower percentages of Millennials with four-year degrees at 21.03 and 18.5 percent respectively.

Salt Lake Millennials are more likely to live with roommates than Millennials in other metro areas.   Just 5.6 percent of area residents 18-34 years-old live alone, compared to a national average of 7.1 percent.  Millennials in Salt Lake are less likely to live with their parents, which is most likely connected to Utah’s high marriage rates.   Fifty-three percent of Millennials in the region have never married compared to 66 percent nationally.

While Salt Lake’s low poverty rate and high level of employment reflect a robust regional economy.  The lower-than-average attainment of advanced degrees among Utah Millennials could hinder continued economic expansion as Salt Lake competes with other economies with a larger educated workforce.

The full data tables can be accessed at the census bureau’s main website.


Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at