Gen Y: Changing the Economic Game

AMA6-11-14Move over, baby boomers. There’s a batch of new kids in town, and their numbers have knocked you out of first place as the biggest age cohort in the country. We’re talking about the millennials, or Generation Y, whose buying patterns and lifestyle choices are changing the face of the economy in ways large and small.

According to recent Department of Labor statistics, the largest age group in the country now has an average age of just 23. That generation, like the baby boomers born between the end of World War II and 1960, includes people just finishing college to young adults in their mid-thirties. And like the baby boomers, which shaped the cultural and economic landscape for so many years, this new group is making an impact in virtually every area of the economy.

Think of Gen Y as the connected generation. Coming of age in a digital world that puts everything within reach 24/7, this group is adept at testing, Skyping, Facebooking, Instagramming and a host of other web based social connections. In person connectivity? Not so much.

That makes these young people as a general group a challenge for traditional employers, who bemoan their lack of a mainstream work ethic and overall social skills. They’re highly mobile, with little attachment to a job long–term. They’ve grown up in a world where employment isn’t consistent and careers don’t last, and many of them have struggled to find a job related to what they learned in college.

Surveys of social patterns show that this generation is commitment shy in many ways. Burdened with student debt from years in college and struggling to find work, many live at home or with friends, unwilling or unable to make the big-ticket purchases such as a house or car that used to signal “adulthood.”

They tend to marry later, too, and postpone or skip starting families. This generation is more likely than any other to say they plan to have just one child or remain childless – and when they do leave home, they’re more likely to rent rather than buy a home.

Idealism and a wish to change the world is also a key characteristic of this group – and many of them prefer entrepreneurship or working in ways that improve conditions for people and the world to the traditional goals of capitalism.

Granted, that picture of the new millennials has some very broad strokes. But they offer a few insights into the way this new majority views – and changes – the world. It’s a different take on the old American Dream – and as Jason Hartman says, that mans new opportunities for alert investors. (Top image:Flickr/Ju-x)

Read more from The American Monetary Association:

Data Theft Crosses All Borders

Is A College Degree Worth The Cost?

The American Monetary Association Team

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