So far, over the last few Fridays, we have gone over The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen X. This week, we are looking at Millennials, those we previously noted as being born between the years 1981-2000. Although in 2018, the Pew Research Center adjusted the cut-off year to 1996, in order to keep the generation analytically meaningful. (Dimock) For the sake of continuity lets break down the naming of the generation. Originally, this generation was referred to as Generation Y, which seems to have been used only because they followed Gen Xers. Howe and Strauss implemented the name Millennials in their 1991 book, Generations. They “thought that an upbeat name would be good because of the changing way they were being raised. They would be the first to graduate high school in 2000, so the name Millennial instantly came to mind.” (Raphelson)
What I find interesting is that Millennials are still seen as young “kids” but in fact the oldest of the generation will be 39 this year, and the youngest will be 24. Full disclosure, I am smack dab in the middle of the Millennial generation. I don’t fully resonate with the oldest Millennials and simultaneously I don’t resonate with those younger than me within the generation. Much like the Baby Boomers being split into sections, the Millennials are also split as such, with their immense numbers it’s almost impossible to not break them into sections. One way to look at the generation in sections is that the oldest Millennials were old enough to enlist in the military following 9/11 and subsequently serve in the Middle East, the middle (me) were at the beginning of our high school years-young enough to not know the full weight of what was to come but also knowing that it was historic, and then the youngest-who were only five at the time of the attacks and remember much less from that time but have grown up in the shadow of the attacks.
The 2014 census counted 83.1 million Millennials, which at the time was 25% of the population. As a generation we are more diverse than previous generations, with 44.2% being part of a minority race or ethnic group. Although, Generation Z will soon eclipse that percentage. 2016 was the first year any Millennial was eligible to run for president, there are only two in the running for the 2020 election, at the time of this post that is.
I again, would like to clarify my intent in writing these posts. My desire is to explore, very broadly, some key aspects of each generation and then most importantly delve into how their differences are mostly semantics and how their end goals are actually more similar than not and working together is the most effective way to make us better as people.
Also, for an excellent article that is far better executed by a fellow millennial, do check out this article on the Forbes website.
Here are some interesting facts about the Millennial generation:
- This year, 2020, they are projected to be 41% of the American labor force.
- Millennials are not as unique as the hype makes them out to be, nine out of ten want a secure job and financial stability.
- Millennials read more than older generations do—and more than the last generation did at the same age. They are far more likely than older generations to say that it’s for a specific purpose, such as work, school, or research. But they’re also equally likely to read “for pleasure” or “to keep up with current events.”
- Beyond politics, most Millennials came of age and entered the workforce facing the height of an economic recession. As is well documented Millennials have been given a bad rap for their tendency to change jobs. However, data tells us that job hopping is a multi-generational behavior and a symptom of misaligned expectations. To be clear, millennials do job hop, and out of all the generations in the workforce today, they’re the most likely to switch jobs. However, the reality is that job hopping is more an element of being young than a generational quirk.
- Millennials are saving more and their money habits are improving. Nearly a quarter of people aged 24-41 who save have more than $100,000 in savings, up from 16% in 2018, according to a new report from Bank of America. “They have more financial acumen than people suspect.”
- Millennials make up 21% of consumer discretionary purchases, which is estimated to be over a trillion dollars in direct buying power
- 53% of millennial households already have children, 1 in 4 are parents
- $1 trillion in student debt
- Young Silent men were more than 10 times more likely to be veterans than Millennial men are today. Although Millennials came of age at a time when the United States engaged in military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they are far less likely to have served in the military than their Boomer or Silent predecessors. Among men, only 4% of Millennials are veterans, compared with 47% of Silent men, many of whom came of age during the Korean War and its aftermath. The number of young men serving in the active-duty military has decreased drastically since the establishment of an all-volunteer force in 1973, which is reflected in the decreased share who are veterans since then
- Millennials are earning 20% less than their parents did; they may represent a staggering $200 billion in annual buying power, but Millennials are actually earning less than their parents did at the same age. According to a study done by the Young Invincibles, young adult workers (aged 24 yrs-36 years) earn a median income of $40,581. When adjusted for inflation, that figure comes up short by about $10,000 when compared with what their parents were earning at the same age.
As a Millennial, I would like to share some pivotal moments that happened in the world that I either directly remember or that were very present in my life growing up.
Fall of the Berlin Wall, Oklahoma City bombings, OJ Simpson’s trial on television, Jon Benet Ramsey’s murder, the Challenger explosion, dial-up internet (I can still hear that obnoxious beeping in my head), Facebook (I joined the year after it was launched as an actual college student and left after it was invaded by recipes and too much data sharing by Zuckerberg), Twitter ( I joined back way back when and enjoyed the quick access to news as it was happening, then left over a year ago just to limit my social media), Instagram (I loved sharing pictures and “meeting” people from all over the world ( I left several years after FB purchased IG, messing with the algorithm, and again-the data issue), SnapChat (I am still on this one, the concept of a short video that disappears after a set time is highly entertaining to me and I also get a lot of my news on here. Most of the news agencies have accounts and post the news in great little segments)
The Pearl High School shooting – the precursor to Columbine (the days following the shooting there were reports of threats in my own middle school that was in the next town over and a lot of kids stayed at home in the days following the attack, Columbine massacre, Pluto being relegated to a dwarf planet, 9/11, watching the invasion of Iraq on television, death of Bin Laden, death of Saddam Hussein, Arab Spring (I followed this on Twitter and it was fascinating to experience), Occupy Wall Street, the first Gulf War, Great Recession, President Obama elected, the first iPhone, President Clinton’s impeachment, and the rise of the boy band.
Next week I am looking forward to learning about Gen Z, they are a fascinating generation. They are more similar in ways to Gen X, their parents, than they are to Millennials. They are the true digital natives and there is a houseful of them creating content on TikTok.