The United States’ largest demographic group, roughly 75 million “millennial” adults younger than 35, are taking up the mantle as the most impactful generation since the baby boomers.

RACINE COUNTY — This county gets only a C+ grade from RealtyHop, a national site for home sales and data, in a newly released study on the Best Metro Areas for Millennials in 2018. The greater Racine area was ranked No. 206, slightly better than midway down the list.

RealtyHop is a residential sales listing site that incorporates real estate analytics using years of rental data collected by it is sister site RentHop. The New York-based company seeks to make buying and selling residential properties faster and easier, and one of its main goals is to help buyers find smart home investments.

The company said it assessed 448 metropolitan areas using various data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, focusing on aspects of metropolitan areas that would make them appealing to millennials. It compiled its list focusing on aspects for each metro area such as the job market, median incomes, housing affordability, mobility/geographic diversity and education levels.

“When it comes time to pick a place to live, there’s an astounding amount of both cultural and social pressure to simply move to where everyone else is — as a result of this, many people move to coastal cities like New York or Los Angeles because it’s ‘the thing to do,’” RealtyHop said in its overview for the study.

“At RealtyHop, however, we would challenge those feeling the pressures of that social and cultural inertia to be a bit more analytical in one’s approach to where to move. As a millennial, how can one be thoughtful in their approach to where they should live or move to?”

The company’s study led to the conclusion that the country’s best metro areas for millennials are: Omaha, Neb./Council Bluffs, Iowa at No. 1; Des Moines, Iowa, at No. 2; and Pittsburgh, Pa. at No. 3.

Eau Claire, Green Bay and Appleton all made the top 20 in the study. Eau Claire was No. 5 with a 3.75 rating and grade of A-. Green Bay and Appleton tied with St. Cloud, Minn., at No. 16 with ratings of 3.45 and B+ grades.

California has two of the three worst metro areas for millennials, RealtyHop concluded: Madera, Calif. In last place; Stockton-Lodi, Calif., just above Madera; and Yakima, Wash., third worst.

The metrics

RealtyHop’s study looked at the following metrics from the U.S. Census American Community Survey:

Median home value: Which was $169,500 for Racine County. “Essential in any metric ranking cities or metropolitan areas is the median price of a home in said area,” the company explained.

Median household income for persons ages 25-44. That figure was $58,205 for Racine County. “To add further nuance to home prices, median income is also an important factor when deciding where to live,” the company states.

Home value-to-income ratio, derived from median home value and median income. That figure for Racine County was 2.912. RealtyHop explained, “The combination of income and home values gives insight into how many years one would have to save to afford the median home in a given area (and then subsequently adjusted based on savings rates and personal financial circumstances).”

International/out-of-state resident percentage for persons ages 25-34. Racine County’s number was 2.4 percent.

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“Part of the appeal of any area is how vibrant and how diverse it is,” the company states. “By using this metric, we’re able to account for what portion of the millennial population in a given metropolitan area is from the area vs. how many have moved to said area from out of state (or internationally). We use this to create our ‘mobility grade’ which we consider to be a proxy for how mobile the given population is.”

Labor force participation rate for persons ages 25-29, which is 78.6 percent for this county. “We use this to get a sense for how healthy the job market is for millennials in the region,” RealtyHop explained.

Employment-to-population ratio for persons ages 25-29. That ratio was 73.2 for Racine County. “This and the previous metric we use to get a sense for how healthy the job market is for the region,” the company states.

Percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, which was 25.2 percent for Racine County.

“With millennials graduating from college in record numbers (as compared to previous generations), we found it important to add an element of education when ranking metropolitan areas,” RealtyHop explains in the study www.realtyhop.com/blog/the-best-metro-areas-for-millennials-in-2018/.

Officials react

Racine Mayor Cory Mason commented Wednesday about the study’s findings, “Racine remains focused on being the community of choice in the area. The influx of jobs coming to the area gives us an opportunity for us to create spaces desirable for millennials and address some of our inequities. There are challenges that the report points out. With the Foxconn project, we have a number of opportunities to move Racine forward.”

Racine County Jonathan Delagrave pointed out some of the efforts underway that he thought pertinent to the study:

Along with Racine County Economic Development Corp. and Real Racine, Racine County is “undertaking a talent recruitment effort that will include a robust online platform to showcase our communities, schools, cultural amenities and employment opportunities. Of course, young professionals in their 20s and 30s are a big part of the audience we are looking to attract to Racine County.”

Delagrave noted that Racine County is actively working with municipalities to meet the demand for all types of housing, “including options like multifamily and market-rate developments often favored by younger generations.

“With the hundreds of well-paying jobs that are coming to our area, we want those workers, including the millennials, to live, work and play in Racine County,” Delagrave said.

He continued, “We also know millennials favor transportation options beyond driving cars. We convened the Eastern Racine County Transportation Task Force that provided recommendations on more efficiently moving workers to jobs.”

Delagrave concluded, “The thousands of jobs on the way to our community will create tremendous new opportunities for millennials, and we are working hard to make Racine County a destination to live, work and play for young professionals and families.”

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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