The 10 cities with the youngest workforce


Team of young workers /

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While Baby Boomers and Generation X are now the bosses in many companies, more than 25% of the workforce are younger than 30 years. This means that Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) emerge as generations will soon make up the largest percentage of workers.

Starting your career at a young age will give you more time to build your savings and develop a retirement plan with a financial advisor. Some cities offer younger workers more opportunities to work, and SmartAsset compiled the numbers to find where younger workers make up the largest percentage of the local workforce.

To do this, we examined data on the 100 largest cities in the US and analyzed the number of workers under 30 as a percentage of total employees. Details of our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings can be found in the Data and Methodology section at the end.

This is SmartAsset’s second annual study of the cities with the youngest workforce. You can read our 2020 edition here.

1. Norfolk, VA

Norfolk Virginia
Ramunas Bruzas /

With a workforce of nearly 42% who are under 30 years of age, Norfolk, Virginia is high on our list. This city also has the fifth highest employment rate of younger workers in our study, at 80.4%. One of the main reasons that people in this age group are employed in the city is the naval base, the largest in the world. Our study shows that nearly 21% of all Norfolk workers are employed in the armed forces.

2. Madison, WI

Madison, Wisconsin
MarynaG /

Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin and employs 38.93% of the workforce between the ages of 16 and 29. The activity rate in this age group is 74.8%, making it the 25th highest in our study. Education, healthcare, and welfare are the largest employers in Madison, accounting for 32.57% of the total workforce.

3. Lubbock, TX

Lubbock Texas
Patricia Elaine Thomas /

Lubbock, Texas is another university town that is home to Texas Tech. People aged 16-29 make up 37.79% of the workforce in this city. However, the participation rate for this cohort is only 66.3% and ranks 80th out of 100 in our study. The relatively low value for this figure could be influenced by the large university population, who are entitled to work but largely unemployed during their studies is.

4. Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, Nebraska
Mark Dahmke /

Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska. This city has a total of 166,354 workers and 59,184 are under 30 – that’s 35.58% of the workforce. Education, health care, and welfare are the city’s largest industries, employing just over 27% of all workers. Retail is also a major industry in the city, employing 10.85% of the workforce.

5. Pittsburgh, PA

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, used to be dominated by steel production. But now the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is the primary employer. In fact, education, healthcare, and welfare jobs make up 32.03% of the city’s workforce. And workers aged 16 to 29 make up 35.25% of the total workforce.

6. Tucson, AZ

Chris Rubino /

Tucson, Arizona has 98,591 workers under the age of 30 with an employment participation rate of 69.2% for that age group. People aged 16-29 make up 35.22% of all workers in this city.

7. Boston, MA

Boston, Massachusetts
f11photo /

Boston, Massachusetts has the largest workforce in the top 10 of this study, with 426,238 employees. And 149,695 of those forces are under 30, which means 35.12% of the total workforce in Beantown is made up of workers between the ages of 16 and 29. Boston is another city where education, health, and support services dominate, employing 31.17% of the workforce.

8. Cincinnati, OH

anthony-heflin /

Younger workers make up nearly 35% of the total workforce in Cincinnati, Ohio. The number of workers aged 16 to 29 is 57,014 and the activity rate is just over 70%. Education, health care and social welfare are the largest sectors at just over 27%. However, the manufacturing sector in Cincinnati remains important, accounting for 10.62% of the workforce.

9. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, Minnesota /

Minneapolis has the seventh highest participation rate for workers under 30 in our study – nearly 80%. Overall, younger people (16 to 29 years old) make up 34.87% of the city’s workforce. Almost 27% of Minneapolis’ workforce is in education, health care, and welfare, with retail accounting for more than 10%.

10. Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia
ESB Professional /

Richmond, Virginia ranks 10th on our list with an employment rate of just over 78% for people ages 16-29. This age group makes up more than 34% of the city’s total workforce. More than 24% of the city’s total workforce is employed in the education, health care and welfare sectors.

Data and methodology

Young technicians
Show Apart /

To find the cities with the youngest workers, we examined data on the 100 largest US cities. Using population data and employment rates from the Census Bureau’s 2019 Annual American Community Survey, we determined the percentage of the workforce in each city that is younger than 30 years old (that is, between 16 and 29 years old). Cities with the highest proportion of younger workers were at the top of the list and cities with the lowest proportion of younger workers were at the bottom of the list.

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