Millennials Most Diverse Generation in History

February 1, 2018

The millennial generation is the most diverse in American history. Minorities make up 44 percent of the more than 75 million millennials living in the U.S., according to a new report from Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, “The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America’s Diverse Future.” 

By the mid-2040s, racial and ethnic minorities are projected to make up more than half of the nation’s population. “This means that millennials will pave the way for the generations behind them as workers, consumers, and leaders in business and government in their acceptance by and participation in tomorrow’s more racially diverse America,” demographer William Frey writes in the report.

Their entrance into homeownership may be different than previous generations, the report notes. The last housing crisis occurred right before millennials entered the market, and that has limited their ability to attain ownership compared to earlier generations. Debt and low savings prompted more millennials to move in with their relatives or become renters. Differences were found among ethnic groups, too.

While all racial groups posted declines in homeownership during the housing crisis, blacks and Hispanics saw the highest number of decreases. “This delay in homeownership may be robbing millennials of a head start toward a traditional means of wealth accumulation,” Frey notes in the report. 

Both blacks and Hispanics have had lower homeownership rates than whites and Asians, but the divide for blacks, especially, has widened more recently. For older millennials in 2015, there were still significant disparities in homeownership across racial groups, ranging from 56 percent for whites to 33 percent for blacks. Asians were at 43 percent and Hispanics at 37 percent.

Blacks and Hispanics have been found to have lower savings and credit, and are less likely to obtain financial support from family members when compared to their white counterparts, the report notes.

Some states and metros are attracting greater diversity among their millennial population. For example, racial and ethnic minorities make up more than half of the millennial population in a handful of states, including California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and New Jersey. On a metro level, McAllen, Texas—where whites account for just 4 percent of the millennial population—is the most diverse in the country. Miami, Houston, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and several California cities (including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Jose, Stockton, and Fresno) are “minority white” as well.

Source: “The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America’s Diverse Future,” Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program (January 2018)