11 Facts about the Millennial Generation

A meeting at Google

Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2003, are “a cohort whose dominating presence will make its behaviors the major motif of American life in the next decade,” write the authors of a new paper, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.” Morley Winograd, a senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School Center on Communications and Leadership Policy, and Michael Hais, former VP for entertainment research at Frank N. Magid Associates, present new findings about how members of the Millennial generation view banking, finance and corporate America. Here is a sample of some of their key facts about this generation:

    • Millennials will comprise more than one in three of adult Americans by 2020.
    • Millennials will make up as much as 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025.
    • 89% expressed a stronger likelihood that they would buy from companies that supported solutions to specific social issues. (1a)
    • Millennials account for more than $1 trillion in U.S. consumer spending. (1b)
    • 87.5% of Millennials disagreed with the statement that “money is the best measure of success,” compared to about 78% of the total population. (2)
    • The top ideal employers of currently employed Millennials are Google, Apple, Facebook, the U.S. State Department, and Disney. Five of the top 15 most ideal employers are government agencies (State Dept., FBI, CIA, NASA, and Peace Corps). (3)
    • 63% of Millennials want their employer to contribute to social or ethical causes they felt were important. About half of older Gen Xers and Boomers felt the same. (4)
    • 64% of Millennials would rather make $40,000/year at a job they love than $100,000/year at a job they think is boring. (5)
    • 19% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “most people can be trusted.” This compares to 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of the Silent Generation (those born during the Great Depression and World War II), and 40% of Boomers. (6)
    • 83% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies,” more than all other generations. (7)
    • The average investor aged 21 to 36 has 52% of their savings in cash, compared to 23% for other age groups. (8)

“So far,” write the authors, “this generationally-driven shift has had the most impact in endeavors such as entertainment and politics which are particularly susceptible to the influence of younger participants. But now, as the generation enters young adulthood,

the force of the changes they are capable of creating is beginning to be felt in all sectors of America’s economy. The initial tremors are already changing consumer markets and forcing corporations to change their workplace practices. But soon, as Millennials become an increasingly large share of the adult population and gather more and more wealth, the generation’s size and unity of belief will cause seismic shifts in the nation’s financial sector, shaking it to its very foundations and leading to major changes in the nation’s board rooms. As Millennials become CEOs, or determine the fate of those who are, they will change the purpose and priorities of companies in order to bring their strategies into alignment with the generation’s values and beliefs.

Download and read the paper here.

(1a-b) Cone Communications Social Impact Study of 1,200+ U.S. adults (October 2013)
(2) From Spend Shift by John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio (2011)
(3) Universum survey (2011)
(4) LifeCourse research on the workforce (2012)
(5) Intelligence Group study, reported in The Columbus Dispatch (3/30/14)
(6) Pew Research Center (3/7/14)
(7) The Boston Globe (3/9/14)
(8) UBS (2014)

Full citations are available from the paper.