The Worst States for Gen Z

By Amanda Postma - Dec. 4, 2020

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While Gen Z is predicted to become the best-educated and most diverse, they also may have it harder than the generations before them.

Gen Z is also the most anxious generation. In fact, 54% of Gen Z adults have reported that they have anxiety.

As hard as Gen Z may have it overall, there are states that are worse than others when it comes to being a Gen Zer.

We looked at unemployment rates and mental health rankings, among other data points, and found that these are the worst states for Gen Zers.

The Worst States

  1. Oregon
  2. South Carolina
  3. Nevada
  4. Florida
  5. Mississippi
  6. Georgia
  7. North Carolina
  8. Washington
  9. Arizona
  10. Alabama

So there you have it. These states have the least to offer Gen Z. We have it detailed below why that’s the case.

And if you’re looking for the best states, we provided a table at the end of the article with all 50 states.

Methodology

We ranked each state in 4 areas:

  • Gen Z Unemployment Rate
  • Percent of Gen Z Adults With A High School Diploma
  • Mental Health
  • Average Student Loan Debt

All four categories were then averaged together, each weighted equally. The lower score in each category, the lower the rank. For example, Maryland’s $42,700 was the highest average student loan debt, earning it a rank of #1 for student loan debt.

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We used the most recent American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau to get the unemployment rate by state for those 16-24.

The ACS data also provided the percent of Gen Z adults without a high school diploma. It is no secret in today’s world those without a high school diploma face huge disadvantages in the job market.

Our data on average student loan debt comes from Educationdata.org. While only the oldest of Gen Z has had the time to earn a college degree, college costs are rising and Gen Z will feel the impact of these increases.

Finally, we looked at mental health. Gen Z has been referred to as the most anxious and most depressed generation. However, some states have a deeper mental health crisis than others.

We incorporated Mental Health America’s rankings on the prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care for youth for each state.

If your state isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see where it lands on the full list. Otherwise, learn more about why these states are the worst place to be a Zoomer.

1. Oregon

oregon class=

Mental Health Rank: 5
Student Loan Debt: $36,900
High School Dropouts: 13%
Unemployment Rate: 14.20%

Known for its breweries, the world’s smallest park, and the world’s largest cheese factory, Oregon might not seem like a bad place to settle down. That is unless you’re a Gen Zer.

In which case, you’ll be plagued with a high unemployment rate of 14.2% and a low mental health ranking of 5.

Add on top of that the average student loan debt of $36,900 and the percentage of high school dropouts being 13%, you have yourself the worst state for Gen Z.

2. South Carolina

south carolina class=

Mental Health Rank: 4
Student Loan Debt: $38,300
High School Dropouts: 13%
Unemployment Rate: 14.20%

South Carolina may have a lot of palmetto trees and access to the ocean, but the state’s positives stop there for Gen Z. The state is ranked fourth when it comes to Gen Z having poor mental health.

And in this case, the lower that number the worse the mental health is.

It’s easy to see why Gen Z’s mental health is so bad here. With the average student loan debt being $38,300 and the unemployment rate at 14.2%, it seems their struggling to keep their heads above water.

3. Nevada

nevada class=

Mental Health Rank: 1
Student Loan Debt: $33,600
High School Dropouts: 15%
Unemployment Rate: 13.70%

Many visit Nevada to escape their reality for a bit. As they say, what happens there, stays there. But unfortunately, that’s where the fun stops. At least for Gen Zers who live there.

Nevada is the worst-ranked for mental health in the entire country. It’s the one time that you don’t want a one for a ranking.

4. Florida

florida class=

Mental Health Rank: 16
Student Loan Debt: $39,700
High School Dropouts: 15%
Unemployment Rate: 11.90%

The Sunshine State may not have the worst Gen Z mental health rates, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great place for them either.

In fact, Florida has the third-highest average student loan debt of $39,700. And the 15% of high school dropouts isn’t great either.

5. Mississippi

mississippi class=

Mental Health Rank: 23
Student Loan Debt: $36,700
High School Dropouts: 14%
Unemployment Rate: 18.40%

Yet another southern state makes it on the list. Mississippi just doesn’t have a lot to offer Gen Z in terms of keeping students in school.

From the average student debt being $36,700 to 14% of the generation being high school dropouts, the generation takes a major hit here.

But worst of all, the state has the highest unemployment rate for Gen Z at 18.4%.

6. Georgia

georgia class=

Mental Health Rank: 29
Student Loan Debt: $41,500
High School Dropouts: 15%
Unemployment Rate: 12.70%

Georgia’s on our mind, but not in a positive light. Gen Zers struggle in Georgia with the second-highest average student loan debt of $41,500 in the U.S.

The state’s high school dropout rate of 15% isn’t far behind, as it’s the fourth-highest rate for Gen Z.

7. North Carolina

north carolina class=

Mental Health Rank: 8
Student Loan Debt: $37,500
High School Dropouts: 12%
Unemployment Rate: 12.50%

North Carolina may be known for it’s higher education, but 12% of Gen Z isn’t even making it past high school there. On top of that, the unemployment rate for Gen Z is 12.5%. It seems the odds are stacked against Gen Z in North Carolina.

8. Washington

washington class=

Mental Health Rank: 9
Student Loan Debt: $35,000
High School Dropouts: 13%
Unemployment Rate: 13.10%

The rainy state of Washington with its highly rated coffee is no match for Gen Z. The generation’s mental health there is ranked ninth in the country and the unemployment rate is ridiculously high at 13.1%.

Good thing that there are other coffee places in the U.S.

9. Arizona

arizona class=

Mental Health Rank: 22
Student Loan Debt: $34,100
High School Dropouts: 15%
Unemployment Rate: 13.10%

The dry, desert state of Arizona isn’t the place you want to be if you’re a Gen Zer. And it’s not because of the dry heat, either.

Instead, the state has the fourth-highest percentage of high school dropouts at 15% for Gen Z alone. Stay in school, kids.

10. Alabama

alabama class=

Mental Health Rank: 20
Student Loan Debt: $37,100
High School Dropouts: 13%
Unemployment rate: 11.65%

The 10th worst state for Gen Z is Alabama. It’s all fun and games on spring break in Alabama, but that should be the only reason Gen Z is ever in the state.

The average student loan debt there is $37,100 and the unemployment rate is 11.65%. Gen Zers deserve better.

Avoid at All Costs

As a Gen Zer, it’s probably best if you avoid living in these 10 states. At least, for this year. The career outcome doesn’t look bright, and your mental health deserves a break.

Instead, you should read through the table below to find the best states for you to live in. Those states will have more to offer you than the 10 states we already highlighted.

The Worst States for Gen Z

Rank State Mental Health Rank Average Student Debt Less Than High School Diploma Unemployment
1 Oregon 5 $36,900 13% 14.20%
2 South Carolina 4 $38,300 13% 12.15%
3 Nevada 1 $33,600 15% 13.70%
4 Florida 16 $39,700 15% 11.90%
5 Mississippi 23 $36,700 14% 18.40%
6 Georgia 29 $41,500 15% 12.70%
7 North Carolina 8 $37,500 12% 12.50%
8 Washington 9 $35,000 13% 13.10%
9 Arizona 22 $34,100 15% 13.00%
10 Alabama 20 $37,100 13% 11.65%
11 Alaska 3 $33,600 11% 13.45%
12 California 19 $36,400 11% 13.80%
13 Wyoming 2 $31,000 16% 11.90%
14 New Mexico 10 $33,600 17% 10.25%
15 West Virginia 13 $31,800 13% 13.85%
16 Arkansas 21 $33,300 12% 15.15%
17 Tennessee 14 $36,200 12% 10.75%
18 Delaware 41 $37,000 13% 12.05%
18 Louisiana 31 $34,400 16% 11.55%
18 Illinois 25 $37,600 11% 11.65%
21 Montana 7 $33,300 13% 10.55%
22 Hawaii 27 $36,500 8% 16.50%
23 Idaho 6 $32,600 15% 8.35%
24 New York 38 $37,800 11% 11.85%
25 Oklahoma 12 $31,500 15% 10.25%
26 Maryland 43 $42,700 10% 12.55%
26 Texas 24 $32,800 14% 11.20%
28 Colorado 18 $35,800 12% 9.05%
29 Michigan 32 $35,900 12% 10.90%
30 Virginia 35 $39,000 10% 11.20%
31 Missouri 26 $35,400 12% 9.70%
32 Ohio 34 $34,600 12% 10.90%
32 Indiana 33 $32,800 15% 10.15%
34 New Jersey 42 $35,100 10% 12.65%
35 Connecticut 39 $34,900 9% 12.85%
36 Utah 11 $32,200 11% 8.45%
37 Kentucky 36 $32,500 11% 11.25%
37 Kansas 15 $32,500 10% 9.80%
39 Nebraska 17 $32,100 10% 10.25%
40 South Dakota 28 $31,100 14% 8.85%
41 Pennsylvania 50 $35,400 11% 10.50%
42 Minnesota 37 $33,400 12% 7.90%
43 Rhode Island 48 $31,800 8% 13.35%
43 Vermont 45 $36,700 7% 9.05%
45 Maine 30 $32,500 10% 8.85%
46 Massachusetts 47 $34,100 10% 9.15%
46 New Hampshire 44 $36,700 9% 7.00%
48 Iowa 40 $30,500 11% 10.00%
49 Wisconsin 46 $31,800 10% 7.55%
50 North Dakota 49 $29,200 6% 7.50%

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Amanda Postma

Author

Amanda Postma

Amanda Postma is a writer for the Zippia Career Advice blog with a focus on creating entertaining content to help you through your job search. She received her BA from the University Of Missouri-Columbia.

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