Kentucky ranked one of worst places to live for millennials

Here's why Kentucky was rated 42nd in the nation for millennial living by WalletHub.

Here’s why Kentucky was rated 42nd in the nation for millennial living by WalletHub.

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Are you a millennial living with your parents in Kentucky? If so, this study says you are far from alone.

Personal finance website WalletHub posted its 2022 ratings for all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) on millennial-friendliness May 24. The Best & Worst States for Millennials defines a member of the generation as someone born between 1981 and 1996.

Kentucky placed 42nd in the nation, particularly lagging in areas such as high school graduation, health metrics and quality of life. The commonwealth did better on affordability, securing a 10th place spot in that category.

The overall score given to Kentucky was a 41.94/100, placing 39th in education and health, 45th in quality of life, 44th in citizen involvement and 36th in economic health.

The article evaluated the areas of affordability, education and health, quality of life, economic health and civic engagement.

Affordability was calculated considering cost of living, the average price of a Starbucks latte, monthly earnings, homeownership rate, child care costs and housing costs.

Quality of life was determined by the share of millennials, the proportion of the generation living with their parents and the area being friendly to single and families. Only six locales scored lower than Kentucky in this field.

Information about how other metrics were measured, including how WalletHub weighed various categories, is available online.

Some of the data sources the company used include the US Census Bureau, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Child Care Aware of America and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How did Kentucky compare to other states?

Here’s the full 2022’s Best & Worst States for Millennials, from Wallethub.

  1. Washington

  2. District of Columbia

  3. Massachusetts

  4. Utah

  5. Illinois

  6. Minnesota

  7. Oregon

  8. Wisconsin

  9. Virginia

  10. Colorado

  11. Nebraska

  12. Iowa

  13. Pennsylvania

  14. California

  15. Vermont

  16. South Dakota

  17. Maine

  18. New York

  19. New Hampshire

  20. Connecticut

  21. Ohio

  22. Texas

  23. North Dakota

  24. Michigan

  25. Arizona

  26. Rhode Island

  27. Idaho

  28. North Carolina

  29. New Jersey

  30. Tennessee

  31. Maryland

  32. Kansas

  33. Hawaii

  34. Montana

  35. Missouri

  36. Indiana

  37. Florida

  38. Georgia

  39. Delaware

  40. Wyoming

  41. Alabama

  42. Kentucky

  43. Oklahoma

  44. Alaska

  45. South Carolina

  46. Nevada

  47. Louisiana

  48. Arkansas

  49. New Mexico

  50. West Virginia

  51. Mississippi

Why did Kentucky do so poorly?

US News & World Report ranked the commonwealth 44th in the country for health care services. Kentucky was rated 16th for access to health care, but did worse than national averages in preventable hospital admissions and obesity.

Poverty levels are higher in Kentucky than in most of the country. Just under 15% of commonwealth residents were recorded as living under the poverty line in the 2020 census, compared to a rate of 11.4% across the country.

Education was another area that set Kentucky behind, according to the Census Bureau. The area’s high school graduation rate is slightly lower than the national average, and the proportion of adults age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree is more than 7% below typical US numbers.

Kentucky ranked low for quality of life, which was measured in part by the share of millennials living with their parents.

Median rent was $783 from 2016 to 2020, according to the Census Bureau, but it may be difficult to afford the costs for those who hope to live alone, as the median per capita income is $29,123.

Another bill bogging down many Kentucky millennials is student loan debt. The average college graduate in the commonwealth has $29,523 in education loans, according to LENDEdu, a company providing financial advice products.

Do you have a question about Kentucky for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out the form below or email

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Meredith Howard is a service journalist with the Belleville News-Democrat. She is a Baylor University graduate and has previously freelanced with the Illinois Times and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


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