In this article:
One of the more interesting demographic changes of the past few years has millennials leaving many of the largest U.S. cities. It's a trend that runs counter to previous generations, who were by and large moving into metropolitan areas when they were of a similar age as millennials are today.
The pandemic appeared to provide an additional tailwind as millennials and members of other generations chose to escape the high cost of city living for new opportunities to work remotely from rural or suburban home offices.
We looked at how the FICO® Scores☉ of millennials remaining in those cities (as well as recent newcomers bucking the trends) have changed since the pandemic, and how they compare with the broader population.
Millennials Moved Out of Cities Both Before and During the Pandemic
To set the stage: For a number of years, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) have had negative net migration into cities—more have been moving out than moving in. The departures are particularly acute where rents and home prices are climbing the fastest. Although exacerbated by the pandemic, the trend was already there: More millennials moved out of cities than in for a number of years prior to 2020, according to U.S. Census data.
Of course, millennials are just part of larger migration trends that have occurred over a number of decades. Broadly speaking, more people have moved from colder Northeast and Midwest states to warmer sunbelt states. And as the generation that represents the largest portion of the workforce, millennials now play a significantly major role in continuing that trend.
Since the 2020 Census (dated April 2020, about the same time the pandemic was officially declared by the World Health Organization), only 11 of the 25 largest metro areas in the U.S. have grown, while 14 have seen population declines.
|Population Change in the 25 Largest Metro Areas Since April 2020|
|Metro||2020 Population||2021 Estimated Population||Change|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.||3,175,275||3,219,514||+1.39%|
|District of Columbia||6,385,162||6,356,434||-0.45%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Not only are some millennials not seeking a new home and career in the cities, but a number of those already there are leaving, prodded by both economic conditions as well as, perhaps, a newfound freedom to work away from the office. Other factors, including housing shortages and accelerating home and rental prices, have slowed migration into areas that were previously welcoming to new residents, such as California.
FICO® Scores Improving Despite Economic Headwinds
Millennials who remain in these metros have seen their FICO® Scores improve despite the rising costs of practically everything in 2021 and 2022. If there's a distinction to be made between the credit scores of millennials and other generations, the comparison won't be as pronounced as the difference in music taste or fashion choices.
|Average Millennial FICO® Scores in the 25 Largest Metros, 2018-2022|
|District of Columbia||687||691||694||708||710|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.||651||651||655||673||677|
Source: Experian; data as of Q2 of each year
As of 2022, the average credit score of millennials in all 25 cities is at least 670 or more, which is considered a good FICO® Score.
Bright Lights, Big City
Although the nation's two largest metro areas, New York and Los Angeles, are among the cities millennials left in greater numbers, they're still beacons to many. In addition, a greater percentage of millennials who grew up there tended to stick around in greater numbers, compared with other cities. While 20% of millennials from New York and 21% of Los Angeles millennials left their native cities by age 26, that's a far lower percentage than millennials who left other large cities.
Percentage of Millennials Leaving Their Hometown Cities
At the other end of the spectrum, millennials weren't hanging around in their hometowns of Orlando; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte; Atlanta and Tampa—which seemingly contradicts the broader trend of migration into these cities (excepting the perhaps special case of the nation's capital).
Methodology: The analysis results provided are based on an Experian-created statistically relevant aggregate sampling of our consumer credit database that may include use of the FICO® Score 8 version. Different sampling parameters may generate different findings compared with other similar analysis. Analyzed credit data did not contain personal identification information. Metro areas group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and compilations of related statistical data.
FICO® is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.