On a recent Tuesday, it was not a good day to be a millennial. They learned that, unlike any previous generation, they are entering their work life with an average of $22,000 of student loan debt. They were told by the HR chief of Intel that their liberal arts degrees (far and away the majority for them) are not valuable enough to stop the outsourcing of jobs offshore. One of their own, a 23 year old running a South Bay non-profit, described her struggles with debt and the bewildering number of jobs she’s held in the brief interval since graduation. All of this coming before Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of Linked In, declared that ‘…careers are dead’ and that they should expect to be employed as freelancers their entire working lives.
At a conference hosted by the Atlantic monthly, the National Journal and Allstate Insurance entitled “Millennials in the Next Economy” at UCLA, we learned some interesting facts about this generation who are 92 million strong. They are the most diverse generation ever: 40% are minorities. 28% are college graduates, making them the best educated (in terms of degrees, at least) of any previous generation, with 42% currently in school. 26% are seeking employment. Politicians should note that 72% are registered to vote and 39% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.
But the one statistic that I found most interesting is, despite the economic collapse and the situation they find themselves in, 60% believe that they are in control of their own destinies, that their decisions will primarily decide the outcome of their lives.