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Chamber teams with the Boston Foundation on special report on Millennials in Greater Boston

May 24, 2017

A report from the Boston Foundation and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce shows that Greater Boston’s millennial population is more racially and ethnically diverse and more educated than any wave of young adults before, but that housing and economic mobility are persistent challenges impacting how this population experiences life in our region. The report, City of Millennials: Improving the Future Prospects of Our Region and Its Young Adults, provides an overview and analysis of trends among Greater Boston’s young adult population and examines key findings from a new survey of local millennials conducted by Boston Indicators and City Awake, a program of the Greater Boston Chamber. The goal of the report was to gain a baseline understanding of millennials’ perceptions and challenges in order to guide future work addressing these concerns.

The report findings will be presented and discussed at a May 25 Forum at the Boston Foundation, with featured speakers including Luc Schuster, Director of Boston Indicators; Stas Gayshan of Cambridge Innovation Center; Jesse Kanson-Benanav of Somerville Community Corporation; Malia Lazu of Epicenter Community; Boston City Council President Michelle Wu; Justin Kang of City Awake; Stephen Chan of the Boston Foundation, and others.

“Our future prosperity depends in no small part on our ability to support our millennial population,” said Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul S. Grogan. “At 35 percent, Boston has the largest share of millennials among all major U.S. cities. While our city is thriving in many ways, this survey of young adults in Boston surfaces some deep anxieties that merit focused civic attention; chief among them are concerns about rising housing costs and declining economic mobility.”

The report’s analysis of the region’s young adult population shows that among the 25 most populous U.S. cities, Boston has the highest concentration of 20-34 year olds, and that in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, this population grew much faster from 2000-2015 than the overall population in each of these cities.

The report also shows that Hispanic and Asian young adult populations in Boston grew more than 30 percent during that same time period, with more than 43 percent of the region’s millennial population reporting as non-white or Hispanic.

Survey respondents overwhelmingly expressed concerns about access to safe and affordable housing, and many noted that they have struggled to find sufficient housing and/or meet housing payments. Despite these concerns, more than half of those surveyed hope to buy a home in the Greater Boston area. Steadily rising housing costs, however, have already forced more than 33 percent of respondents to move out of the area. 

Based on survey results, respondents’ concerns about economic mobility seems acutely tied to perceptions of unequal opportunity: More than 70 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “There are plenty of economic opportunities for people from every socioeconomic background.” There were also significant differences in perceptions about this inequality among different ethnic and racial groups in the survey. In addition, a greater share of black and Hispanic millennials reported that they were unable to save, unable to meet housing payments, or had incomes that did not meet their needs, compared to white and Asian respondents to the survey.

Engaging in efforts to improve upward mobility, to provide more and affordable housing options, and to provide better access to and reliability of public transportation for all who live and work in Greater Boston is crucial to the long term competitiveness of our region,” said James E. Rooney, president & CEO, Greater Boston Chamber. “These are all top policy priorities for the Chamber and the business community. The positive news is that Greater Boston’s millennials are committed to helping us overcome these challenges, and we’re seeing tremendous engagement and contributions from this population, particularly those involved with our City Awake program. 

“Our future prosperity depends in no small part on our ability to support our millennial population,” said Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul S. Grogan. “At 35 percent, Boston has the largest share of millennials among all major U.S. cities. While our city is thriving in many ways, this survey of young adults in Boston surfaces some deep anxieties that merit focused civic attention; chief among them are concerns about rising housing costs and declining economic mobility.”

The report’s analysis of the region’s young adult population shows that among the 25 most populous U.S. cities, Boston has the highest concentration of 20-34 year olds, and that in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, this population grew much faster from 2000-2015 than the overall population in each of these cities.

The report also shows that Hispanic and Asian young adult populations in Boston grew more than 30 percent during that same time period, with more than 43 percent of the region’s millennial population reporting as non-white or Hispanic.

Survey respondents overwhelmingly expressed concerns about access to safe and affordable housing, and many noted that they have struggled to find sufficient housing and/or meet housing payments. Despite these concerns, more than half of those surveyed hope to buy a home in the Greater Boston area. Steadily rising housing costs, however, have already forced more than 33 percent of respondents to move out of the area. 

Based on survey results, respondents’ concerns about economic mobility seems acutely tied to perceptions of unequal opportunity: More than 70 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, “There are plenty of economic opportunities for people from every socioeconomic background.” There were also significant differences in perceptions about this inequality among different ethnic and racial groups in the survey. In addition, a greater share of black and Hispanic millennials reported that they were unable to save, unable to meet housing payments, or had incomes that did not meet their needs, compared to white and Asian respondents to the survey.

Produced in partnership with The Boston Foundation