Times change fast, and as one generation heads into retirement, the world they once knew is unrecognizable. That’s how baby boomers feel looking at the world dominated by millennials, who are mostly their children. Millennials – born between 1981 and 1996 – are now the largest age group in America, making up 22 percent of the population. That makes baby boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 – the second largest age group at 21 percent. Baby boomers are now either headed to retirement or already in independent-living centers. Meanwhile, their millennial children are just beginning their adult lives. Because they’re such a big percentage of the population, their purchase decisions shape the economy and change the idea of the American Dream.
Millennials are more career-driven
Millennials are often criticized for killing industries that their boomer parents helped to flourish. For instance, they are the reason the cereal industry has seen a slump these recent years. This is because they prefer things that they can easily eat on the way to work and require minimal cleanup. Sandwiches and breakfast burritos are popular choices among this age group.
Their work habits are also different from other generations in that they’re job-hoppers rather than career ladder-climbers. This may be because they want mentors, not bosses. On top of that, they also want a better work-life balance. Wanting more control, some of them are dropping their nine-to-five jobs for self-employment.
These new demands from millennials, the most populous generation in the labor force, are changing today’s workplace. Companies are now moving towards becoming more employee-centric than customer-centric. They’re also working hard to become more socially and politically involved. Companies need to meet these demands if they want to stay in business because millennials are projected to make up 75% of the labor force by 2025.
Millennials are more health-conscious
In the same vein as their valuing work-life balance, millennials work harder to be healthy than older generations. Their access to technology helps them to keep in touch with their physical well-being. They prioritize their mental and physical health. But being a generation that’s active on social media and the internet, they’re also the most prone to suffering the negative emotional impacts of media consumption.
They’re also more environmentally conscious
They’re the most educated and knowledgeable generation. This is partly because of their access to and their daily use of the internet and social media, from which a person can get much information. This has made them more environmentally aware than previous generations. Recognizing that large corporations have a massive carbon footprint, they’re also more supportive of small businesses. This is harming traditional shopping centers and department stores such as Macy’s.
They’re not as financially stable as previous generations were at their age
This is mainly because of increased debt for generations after boomers. When baby boomers entered the market for their first home, houses were incredibly affordable. This allowed almost half of the baby boomer population to buy their first home between 25 and 34 years old.
Meanwhile, their millennial children are renting for longer and putting off buying homes, effectively hurting the starter home market. Having grown up during the 2008 recession, they know to be more careful with their finances. Additionally, student debt is at an all-time high, and many millennials are likely to be paying off their loans years after they’ve graduated.
They’re putting off marriage and starting families
Environmental consciousness, a career-driven mindset, and lack of financial stability all make up why millennials don’t want to have kids. This was already the case before the Coronavirus hit earlier this year, but the pandemic has only served to aggravate this issue further.
The low fertility rate and lack of millennials’ financial stability is bad news for their baby boomer parents – and not just because they won’t be getting grandchildren immediately. Baby boomers bought or built their homes when the average American home had become bigger than previous generations. But because millennials are delaying having children and are waiting to become more financially stable, they won’t look twice at houses with too much space for their needs. But this is bad news for baby boomers because they need the money of millennial homebuyers to help them through retirement.
Millennials are unfairly criticized – often by no less than their baby boomer parents – for leading radically different lifestyles than previous generations. But they can’t be blamed for changing their lifestyles to suit the economic situation they’re living in. At the same time, it’s understandable that boomers are frustrated with millennials’ lifestyle choices since their retirement depends on them. Change is part and parcel of the passage of time, and the best thing we can do is anticipate changes and be prepared to adapt to them.