Updated 10:50 a.m., 12/4/2014

Hawaii’s young adults are doing better financially — if they actually have a job — and living more independently than millennials nationally. But local millennials are lagging when it comes to finding employment or finishing college.

It’s the first time people in Hawaii ages 18 to 34 have earned salaries above the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest statistics from the American Community Survey.

The data, released Thursday, shows the median earnings of young adults has fallen nationally since 2010 while Hawaii has held relatively steady over the same time period.

Looking back to 1980, Hawaii’s young adults were earning $31,147 a year compared to the national average of $35,845, in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars. But by last year, millennials in the Aloha State were making $34,767 a year, compared to $33,883 nationally.

Median Earnings Census Millennials

The chart shows how median earnings of young adults has changed over time. Source: American Community Survey, 2009-2013

The new statistics reveal numerous distinctions between young adults today, commonly referred to as the millennial generation, and young adults in 1980. The findings show some areas where Hawaii bucks the trend, but the state follows the national norm in other categories.

“Three decades of decennial census statistics combined with the latest American Community Survey statistics give us a unique view of how — and where — our nation is changing,” said Jonathan Vespa, a Census Bureau demographer, in a release. “In this case, we can look at the changing characteristics of young adults over the last few decades.”

The 73 million young adults currently 18 to 34 years old comprise the largest such population in the last three decades, a U.S. Census news release says, but their share of the population is actually smaller today than in 1980, when the young adult population included the baby boomers born after World War II between 1946 and 1964.

The American Community Survey data collected from 2009 to 2013 is included in an interactive data tool on the Census Bureau’s website, which lets users break down the information in different categories by state, metropolitan area, county and even neighborhood. 

Luke Metcalf visiting from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania grabs some coffee at Glazer’s Coffee in Mo’ili’ili. Metcalf is house sitting while in Honolulu, Hawaii.  3 dec 2014. photograph Cory Lum.

Luke Metcalf grabs some coffee at Glazer’s Coffee in Moiliili, Wednesday.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Here’s a look at how Hawaii stacks up across some key categories.

In 1980, Hawaii was above the national average when it came to the percent of the population age 18 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The state has lagged the national average ever since though.

The most recent data shows 22 percent of young adults in the U.S. have at least a bachelor’s, compared to almost 21 percent of millennials in Hawaii. In 1980, 18 percent of young adults in Hawaii had at least a bachelor’s compared to 16 percent nationally.

When it comes to finding a job, Hawaii’s young adults were doing awesome back in 1980 when 75 percent were employed compared to 70 percent nationally. But the 2009-2013 data shows a significant decline, with just 62 percent of millennials in Hawaii employed compared to 65 percent nationally.

The U.S. is catching up with a phenomenon that has long been common in Hawaii, that being the percent of young adults who speak a language other than English at home. Hawaii has held relatively steady over the years, with the non English speakers increasing to 23 percent last year from 19 percent in 1980. But this number has more than doubled nationally, going from 11 percent in 1980 to almost 25 percent last year.

The percent of young adults living in Hawaii who were born in another country has more than doubled since 1980, rising to 15 percent from 6 percent. Nationally, this has only crept up 2 percent over the past four decades, going from 13 percent to 15 percent.

Nationally, the number of millennials living in poverty has spiked to almost 20 percent, but in Hawaii that figure has held steady at roughly 13 percent.

The number of veterans ages 18 to 34 has plummeted nationally since 1980, but has risen in recent years in Hawaii. Almost 6 percent of the state’s young adults are veterans, compared to 2 percent across the U.S. Both were at about 9 percent four decades ago.

The percent of young adults in Hawaii who are white dropped to 25 percent last year from 28 percent in 1980. That follows a similar trend across the U.S., which has gone from 78 percent to 57 percent over the same time period.

More young adults in Hawaii live with their parents compared to nationally, but the gap is closing as more millennials move in with mom and dad. Data gathered between 2009 and 2013 shows 30 percent lived with a parent nationally, compared to 31 percent in Hawaii.

Hawaii follows the national trend of people waiting longer to get married. More than 60 percent of millennials have never married, up roughly 20 percent from 1980.

Update The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism shared reports Thursday that highlight the Hawaii statistics, available below.

Here’s a DBEDT report that delves into county-specific data for Hawaii.

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