We’ve Arrived…


We are Generation Y, the ‘Millennials’ everyone seems to be talking about.  There are many interesting views about our generation, but to begin to understand us, you first have to understand the ones who came before us.

Prior to Generation X those born between ’65 and ’79, the Baby Boomers (in most cases, our parents, born between 1946 and 1964), enjoyed prosperous times, from the post WW2 economic boom to the egocentric 60’s and all the way through the profitable Reagan era. Boomers even experienced budget surpluses in the 90s under Clinton…an unspeakable feat today. Consequently, “many were able to buy second homes, take out loans at low interest rates, buy cheap gas and pump money back into the economy.”  They grew up and lived quite well, fully expecting social security, health care, and government assistance to outlast their lifetime. There was essentially no worry until September 2008 when the economy turned upside down during last days of President Bush’s term. The boomer generation faced little, if any adversity, until the recent economic crisis. This group of 80 million aging Americans, many of whom dreadfully close to retirement, found themselves in a time where the country’s economic stability and future ability was, and still is, unknown. It’s funny that as a whole, they have paid less into the social security system than they are expecting to get out. Even more so that the following generations (yes that includes you) will not only see their wages being slashed more and more, but the amount of SS we recieve will likely be much less than what’s being paid out now as the government leans on us to supplement rising health care costs for an aging generation. Some would say that the sheer size of this generation has been a huge contributor to the U.S. debt crisis, but you won’t see any politicians pointing the finger – they also represent massive voting power.

But onto us. Generation Y, often called the “generation of entitlement” because we feel as though we are entitled to much more than we really are. We want it now, thanks to the fact that we grew up as the speed of technology and internet shaped the world around us.  We are less focused on the “rites of passage” than our predecessors and are more focused on our abilities and achievements. We are the generation that has seen a divorce rate that won’t recede leaving us unsure about marriage, so we cohabitate at record rates.  Studies actually show that we are more concerned about parenting than marriage. We have been “pampered, nurtured, and programmed” with an abundance of activities since we were infants. We have ambitions of climbing to the top, without paying our dues along the way.
The harsh reality of the present-day economy is a hard pill to swallow for the college graduates entering the workforce. The effect of the current economic outlook is being multiplied by the fact that many jobs are taken by Baby Boomers and Generation X (and with many people questioning, and having to delay retirement, this may not change for years to come). Our generation has witnessed the dot come bubble (early 2000’s) and the housing bubble burst. Now in financial crisis with rising unemployment and a seemingly insurmountable debt hanging over our heads, how do we cope? Contrarily, there are plenty in our generation who have found employment, even when one out of five, can’t. We are actually the fastest growing segment in the workforce, growing 7 percent in the early 2000’s. Even in the face of adversity we are bringing a new attitude to the working world and shaking up the once authoritarian-like principles with our innovative methods of doing business. We’ve brought a more casual face to business, sporting our Toms and listening to iPods at our desk. We’re all about the work-life balance. Unlike the Boomers who overly emphasized career, we are more apt to make our jobs tailor to our family and personal lives, and not the other way around. We are also welcoming of change. To put it bluntly, we represent change (maybe that is why President Obama’s “Change we can believe in” campaign was so successful). We are so driven by change that we often move from job to job and company to company, which is radically different from the company loyalty that our parents exhibited.  As we walk into retail companies around the country, we recognize the aging workforce and are often times employing workers more than 40 years our senior. We embrace the challenges, as we hold high expectations of ourselves and our employers. In light of all the bad publicity that we receive, studies show that 18- to 29-year-olds remain optimistic, “despite a job-killing recession, two wars and the threat of terrorism.”  We are high performers and high maintenance and that’s just the way it is.
Photo courtesy of: Currency Marketing

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