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Boston millennials a diverse, educated bunch

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But so what?

Mike Norton/Flickr

Some 35 percent of Boston residents were between the ages of 20 and 34 as of 2015, according to a new analysis from the nonprofit Boston Foundation.

That is the highest millennial concentration among America’s 25 largest cities, and a much higher proportion than the 21 percent nationwide as of 2015.

In Cambridge, the proportion was 42 percent, and, in Somerville, 44 percent.

In 2015, the latest available in the report, the cumulative millennial population in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville stood at a little more than 305,000. That makes millennials in the Boston region a pretty sizable city unto themselves.

What’s more, that population has grown significantly during the 21st century. The number of 20- to 34-year-old Bostonians grew nearly 16 percent from 2000 to 2015, compared with 10 percent growth for the overall population.

In both Cambridge and Somerville, the millennial population grew almost 10 percent, compared with 6 percent overall in Cambridge and a measly 1 percent in Somerville.

Also, these newer millennials in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville are a generally diverse lot. African-Americans accounted for 23 percent of the millennial growth in Somerville, for instance, and 18 percent of it in Boston.

Hispanics accounted for 35 percent of the growth in both Boston and Cambridge.

Such growth, however, especially in the overall number, might represent a peak for the region’s population of young people, with a downward slide inevitable because of one chronic challenge.

Wicked smaht and diverse

First, some good news: Millennials in the Boston region are a particularly educated lot.

In Boston, 65 percent of residents between the ages of 25 and 34 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2015. In Cambridge, the proportion was a stonking 88 percent; in Somerville, it was 78 percent.

All three shares represented increases over 2000. Only three other large metropolitan areas in the U.S. outperformed the Boston region in this measure: Washington, D.C., San Jose (a.k.a. Silicon Valley), and San Francisco.

Now the bad news

For all the education and the diversity—and the growth in numbers itself—millennials face a fairly grim future in the Boston region. The biggest reason? You guessed it: Housing costs.

“Despite their relatively high incomes,” the Boston Foundation report said, “many millennials have struggled to meet their housing payments and few believe that the Greater Boston area has sufficient affordable housing options.”

A survey that accompanied the report noted that among millennials’ biggest concerns was a desire for “safe and affordable housing.” The Boston area, though, has some of the nation’s highest real estate prices and rents, rendering it a notoriously difficult place to plant real and lasting roots.

Thus this rather pessimistic conclusion from the study: “Greater Boston’s housing market may push them to other locations.” What say you, baby boomers?