Deloitte U: Making it Millennial – Public policy and the next generation

InsightaaS: Deloitte University Press is a source of deep, thought-provoking material on a wide range of technology and management issues. The site’s mandate is to publish “original articles, reports and periodicals…to draw upon research and experience from throughout our professional services organization, and that of coauthors in academia and business, to advance the conversation on a broad spectrum of topics of interest to executives and government leaders.”

In “Making it Millennial: Public policy and the next generation,” authors Christine Elliott and William Reynolds III examine the issues facing “young Americans with some college education, who account for more than 50 percent” of the generation of adults born between 1980 and 1995. They show that the generation faces tremendous economic pressure: 8.8% unemployment, 18.3% underemployment, and wages that are down almost 8% since the “Great Recession” began. and note that this could have long-term impacts on lifetime earnings for Millennials, for tax revenue and entitlement programs, and even for future generations. The authors then offer a series of issue analyses and mitigating strategies – tactics ranging from increased youth employment programs and community partnerships to address tax shortfalls to programs addressing education requirements and costs, declining populations and housing requirements.

Millennials, the rising generation of adults in the United States born between 1980 and 1995,1 are a topic of societal fascination. A quick Internet search returns more than 15,000 blog posts, editorials, and news articles on Millennials, in which they are characterized by adjectives as varied as apathetic, engaged, selfish, civic, entitled, and impatient. They are the focus of popular television shows and box-office hits. In boardrooms, marketers suggest how to appeal to them as consumers, while managers contemplate how to attract and retain them as employees. At dinner tables across the country, parents and grandparents fret about their plans for the future.

The story is not new; the young have always concerned their elders. Circa 500 BC, Socrates swore the youth of his day loved luxury, displayed poor manners, and contradicted their parents and teachers.2 A letter to the editor of the Atlantic, published in 1911, describes the rising generation as shallow, amusement-seeking, and selfish.3 In 1990, Time magazine ran a cover piece on Generation X, which labeled it indecisive and unmotivated.4 The concern is reasonable, if somewhat clichéd by now. As with every rising generation, the stakes for success are incredibly high. The future quite literally depends on it.

Today’s rising generation, the Millennials, faces a particularly bumpy path down the road to success. Millennials’ coming of age corresponds with a global financial meltdown, a housing bust, the worst recession in the United States since the Great Depression, and soaring higher education costs. While Americans of all ages share these same experiences, the ways in which they impact the rising generation, both now and in the long term, are unique…

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