Why is Mississippi one of the worst states for millennials?

Mississippi’s millennial population—those born between 1981 and 1997—is often at the center of discussion when it comes to the state’s future. A new WalletHub analysis ranks Mississippi as one of the worst states in the nation for millennials based on several key metrics: affordability, quality of life, education and health, civic engagement and economic health.

Affordability is the single area where Mississippi ranks near the top, which is a good thing considering it’s tied with five other states for the nation’s highest millennial unemployment rate and dead last when it comes to average earnings for millennials. Additionally, Mississippi is among a handful of states with the lowest percentage of millennials who have health insurance and ranks second-to-last in overall economic health.

Related: Mississippi women lose $7 billion a year due to the gender wage gap—the ninth-largest in the U.S.

Representing 27 percent of the state’s population in 2016, the question of how to retain and support Mississippi’s generation of young adults lingers amid a steady decline in the overall millennial population.

However, a deeper dive into Mississippi’s population data offers a more informed look at why millennials in different age groups are staying or leaving.

Mississippians ages 22 to 27 grew “anywhere from 2.4 to 13.6 percent” between 2010 and 2016, according to Domenico Parisi, executive director of the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center at Mississippi State.

The number of Mississippi millennials ages 28 to 30 declined during that time, Parisi said in a 2017 op-ed, while the number of those between 31 and 35 grew, “suggesting older millennials might come back and work in Mississippi.”

“How data are presented can have a significant impact on the image of the state,” Parisi said. “If we buy into gloom-and-doom conclusions, how can we ever convince our children to live and work in Mississippi?”

In March 2017, a group of Mississippi lawmakers under 40 formed a bipartisan coalition to address issues regarding the state’s millennial population. The Mississippi Future Caucus is part of a “national movement of young elected officials breaking through partisan gridlock to reestablish political cooperation and create meaningful progress through government institutions.”

Featured photo: University of Mississippi commencement ceremony in the Grove, in Oxford, Miss. on Saturday, May 14, 2016. (Bruce Newman, The Oxford Eagle)

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