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A State-by-State Look at Where Each Generation Lives

Millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers' different needs and wants lead them to flock to different places.

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From living preferences to workforce needs, each generation of Americans has its own characteristics.

By most estimates, millennials recently surpassed baby boomers as the nation's largest generation. As of 2012, roughly 28 percent of Americans were millennials, while boomers accounted for about a quarter of the population.

The prevalence of each generation does vary somewhat among states, though.

Using recent Census estimates, Governing computed state population totals for millennials, Generation X, baby boomers and the Silent Generation. The following maps and data summarize the top states for each generation, current as of 2012. (See definitions used for generations below)

Millennials

Washington, D.C., has served as a magnet for millennials, particularly over the past decade. A third of the District's residents fall into this age bracket -- more than any state. 

Just behind D.C. is Utah, the nation's youngest state in terms of median age, followed by Alaska, North Dakota and Texas. In general, data suggests western states tend to have higher concentrations of millennials.

Here's a map showing millennials' share of each state's total population. (Mouse over a state to display its data.)

 
 

Generation X

Gen Xers, those in their mid-to-late 30s and 40s, account for about a fifth of the population in most states.

After D.C., the Census estimates suggest this generation is most common in Georgia. The Peach State, one of the younger states, similarly ranks eighth for millennials. Gen Xers also make up about 22 percent of the population in Nevada and Colorado.

Interestingly, Gen Xers are least prevalent in North Dakota, which has one of the highest tallies for millennials. 

 
 

Baby Boomers

You'll find the greatest concentration of baby boomers in three northeastern states: Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Boomers make up just under 30 percent of the population in these states, which are also the nation's oldest in terms of overall population.

For the most part, slightly fewer baby boomers tend to reside in southern states. This could soon change, though, if historical migration patterns hold true and boomers opt to move south as they retire. 

 
 

Silent Generation

With less than 11 percent of the total population, the Silent Generation is the country's smallest age group.

It's no surprise that Florida is home to the largest share of these Americans, born in the late 1920s up through 1945. States where the Silent Generation is most prevalent also include West Virginia, Maine and Montana.

Arkansas (8th most) and Arizona (9th most) have higher shares of these older residents, despite the fact that their total populations are younger than the majority of other states.

 
 

Methodology

The Census Bureau published population estimates tallying the number of residents living in states for each age number as of July 1, 2012. The following definitions for generations were used to calculate percentages of the population for this snapshot of data:

Millennials: Age 11 to 30 (born 1981-2000)
Generation X: Age 31 to 46 (born 1965-1980)
Baby Boomers: Age 47 to 65 (born 1946-1964)
Silent Generation: Age 66 to 84 (born 1928-1945)

NOTE: Current ages will not correspond with these groups as the estimates are current as of 2012.

 

Mike Maciag is Data Editor for GOVERNING.
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