Last week, The Dallas Morning News' real estate oracle Steve Brown, who is still old, reported that goddamned lazy millennials won't get off their parents' couch. This is a real bummer for the real estate industry, which is booming but could boom even harder if millennials could cut their umbilical cords and act like self-respecting adults.
The trend Brown highlights is real. More millennials are indeed living with their parents, and, as the Pew Research Center highlighted last summer, the number is increasing even though the economy has improved and more young adults are finding jobs, adding evidence to the widely held theory that millennials are just the worst.
But while millennial bashing can be enjoyable, there's a disconnect between the popular conception of the millennial (i.e. entitled, swamped by student debt, fond of artisan eyewear, living in some expensive loft apartment, probably Snapchatting at this very moment) and what the average member of the generation is actually like.
With that in mind, we've crunched census and some other publicly available data to prepare a profile of the typical millennial living in the Dallas area. Generational definitions are fuzzy, but it's generally agreed that the millennial generation encompasses everyone born between 1980 or shortly thereafter and the early 2000s.
Geographically, we look at the entire Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, which gives a more complete portrait than focusing on a single city. And we've focused on the elder half of the generation, the segment aged 25-34, since they have had a reasonable amount of time to finish their educations, find careers, enter into permanent monogamous relationships, and otherwise settle down.
The Typical Dallas Millennial Lives in the Suburbs
Right now, there are 1 million people aged 25-34 living in the Dallas region, accounting for 15 percent of the total population. Of those, fewer than a quarter live in the city of Dallas and about an eighth in the city of Fort Worth. Which means that roughly five-eighths of the age set — well more than half of the population — live in the sprawling suburbs and exurbs.
This isn't particularly surprising given that the region's overall population is overwhelmingly suburban, but it's a handy reminder that relatively few millennials are crammed into trendy apartments in Uptown.
The Typical Dallas Millennial Has Never Finished College
A popular narrative is that millennials are so saddled with student debt that they have to put off buying a house, getting married and otherwise donning the traditional trappings of adulthood. There's some truth to that, but evidence suggests that the millennials who are really screwed by student debt are not those who accumulated six figures while obtaining their four-year college but those who accumulated debt but never graduated.
Dallas has plenty of 25- to 34-year-olds in the latter category. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) have attended college but never earned a degree. An even larger number (25 percent) graduated high school and never tried college, which at the very least means that student debt isn't an issue. Nor is student debt an issue for the 18 percent of older millennials who never finished high school, though their economic prospects are fairly bleak.
Add it all up, and those with college degrees (7 percent have an associate's, 21 percent a bachelor's, 8 percent a graduate or professional degree), are in the minority, making barely a third of the total population.
The Typical Dallas Millennial Is Non-White
In the city of Dallas proper, Hispanics have long since overtaken non-Hispanic whites as the most prevalent ethnic group. That hasn't happened yet in the broader region where, with 44 percent of the 25- to 34-year-old population, non-Hispanic whites are still holding onto a plurality.
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Another way to frame that, of course, is to say that the Dallas region is majority minority — i.e. the typical millennial is either black, Hispanic or something else. Which is probably obvious to anyone who looks at data or thinks very deeply about the region's demographics but is nevertheless doubtless at odds with a lot of millennial stereotypes.
The Typical Dallas Millennial Is (Or Was) Married
Millennials are getting married later than their forebears, but it's not like they have completely thrown off the (life-sustaining, utterly delightful) yoke of matrimony. In fact, a plurality of 25-34-year-olds (44 percent) in the Dallas area are currently married and living together. Include those who are separated (3 percent) or divorced (6 percent) and you have a majority.
The Typical Dallas Millennial Doesn't Make All That Much Money
It's not that hard to find a millennial who shells out a couple grand a month for a luxury apartment, too rich and too enamored with the yuppie lifestyle to make sensible real estate choices.
But the typical Dallas millennial really doesn't have that much disposable income. The average 25- to 34-year-old in Dallas has a family income that puts them a bit north of double the poverty threshold, which is $11,770 for an individual, $15,930 for a married couple, and $24,250 for a family of four. Do the math and you will discover that, while the typical millennial can afford to live, they can hardly afford to live luxuriously.
Take a typical millennial couple with a typical millennial-couple income of $35,000. Applying the rule of thumb that they should spend a third of their income on housing means they can afford $972 in rent. Which means they are priced out of most of Dallas' hippest, most millennial-seeming neighborhoods.