Top 10 Millennial (Gen Y) Questions Answered

How Millennials (Gen Y) Will Change Our World As Consumers, Citizens, and Employees

With 80 million in the U.S. alone, Millennials are now the most influential generation in your marketplace, workplace, and community. Jason Dorsey is the leading expert on Millennials and the emerging generation after them, known as Gen Z. Check out his insider perspective, cutting-edge research, and extensive frontline experience. See Jason’s answers below to your top 10 Millennial questions.

What is the correct name for this generation?

Millennials, Generation Y, Gen Y, Digital Natives, Echo Boomers, or something else?

Different names are used for this birth cohort around the world. For example, in North America the most common generational name is Millennials. However, in other parts of the world, Gen Y is more popular. The key is that it’s the same generation, just a different name.

In our national and international research at The Center for Generational Kinetics, we look at birth years and geography to uncover each generation’s behaviors, characteristics, influences, and emerging trends. Understanding and agreeing on a name makes it easier to talk about the same generation.

Whenever I’m speaking, especially outside of North America, I always make sure to include the different names and birth years so that everyone knows which generations I’m talking about.

 

What are the birth years for Millennials?

The birth years for Millennials are a hot topic and one in which there is much debate. Based on The Center’s research, we place the birth years for Millennials from approximately 1977 to 1995 in North America.

I emphasize approximately because the ending of one generation and beginning of the next is almost always a transitional period of a few years, not one defining moment—except in the case of 9/11 in the U.S.

Since 9/11 was such a generation-defining moment in the U.S., Millennials end in 1995 and Gen Z begins immediately afterward. If you were born after 1995, our research shows it’s almost impossible to clearly remember 9/11 and have a deeply emotional, life-changing connection to it.

Another way I explain it in my speeches and writing is, “If 9/11 has always been history to you—and not something you personally remember—then you are not a Millennial; you are Gen Z.”

However, this generational divide is not the same around the world. Events such as 9/11 have different significance and impact in different geographies. This is why we lead research by geography to uncover those differences, and we don’t assume that Millennials in the U.S. are the same as those in China or Chile.

Is there an Oregon Trail or Xennial generation between Gen X and Millennials?

Short answer: No. This is simply a transitional period.

Essentially, you can be born within 3-5 years of any generation’s beginning or end year—except in the case of a generation-defining moment like 9/11— and have all the characteristics of the generation before or after. In the generational research world, we call people born on the edges or boundaries of generations “Cuspers.” Being a Cusper is an advantage because it usually means you are more empathetic to both generations.

How large is the Millennial generation?

The size of the Millennial generation varies based on the region of the world. In the U.S., there are approximately 83 million Millennials. They are the largest generation of employees and consumers. In other countries, Gen Z or Baby Boomers could be larger. The percentage of each generation within a country or geography depends on population drivers such as birth rates, the economy, immigration patterns, etc.

Are Millennials actually working? The headlines make it seem like Millennials are all unemployed and living in their parent’s basement.

So many headlines say that Millennials are unemployed and not contributing to the workforce. The truth is there are more Millennials in the United States workforce than any other generation of employees!

Could more Millennials join the workforce? Absolutely! And the same is true of every generation. I believe more Millennials will continue to join and move up in the workforce as they continue to get older, enter new life stages, and take on more responsibilities. In fact, most of our large corporate clients now have more Millennial managers than any other generation.

But seriously, are Millennials living with their parents?

In the U.S. today, more twentysomethings live with their parents than in the last decade. This is due to a combination of factors, including wage stagnation, higher costs of living, student loan debt, and several more hidden factors I reveal in my keynote presentations.

It’s also due to the fact that Millennials’ parents still let them live with them (Yes. I know that is provocative but it’s true! I am a Millennial, after all). The irony is that it’s the Baby Boomer parents who generally knew that once they left home they couldn’t come back, yet now they invite (or at least allow) their Millennial kids to continue living with them well into their 20s and even 30s.

One important note that’s not talked about enough is that in many parts of the world and in many cultures, living with your parents or family well into your 20s or 30s is normal. In the U.S., we’ve made a big deal about leaving at age 18 or after college, but in many cultures around the world, it’s totally normal to stay with your parents until you’re married or more firmly on your own feet.

Tell me something about Millennials that I don’t know.

Not all Millennials are entitled, want a participation trophy, or think they should get a plaque just for showing up to work. This is just a clickbait headline that travels well, so people assume it’s true.

The truth is that the group most offended by Millennials acting entitled are other Millennials who do not feel entitled! We think the other part of our generation is giving us a bad reputation!

At The Center, we discovered that Millennials are actually breaking into two different generations. We refer to this as the Millennial split. I talk about this split in my keynote speeches and brand consulting work—including the reasons behind the split and what this generational breakup means for employers, marketers, and the world.

Can Millennials become loyal, hard-working employees, managers, and leaders?

100% YES!

We have the data and frontline experiences to prove it. Millennials are showing signs of increasing their tenure, building their careers, and making significant contributions to companies, including starting their own.

The stereotype most people are familiar with is the “entitled Millennial” who wanted a promotion their first week or they brought their mom to a job interview. Yes. These things have happened.

However, the reality is that Millennials can be loyal, hard-working, problem-solving employees. We see this with companies around the world. It comes down to how a company recruits, develops, and communicates with employees of every generation, not just Millennials.

I teach how to do this in my presentation on Crossing the Generational Divide at Work. The key is not to coddle or cater to this generation. Instead, you want to take the opposite approach and expect them to do a good job, want to learn and grow, and stick around.

Is it worth pursuing Millennials as customers? Do they actually have money?

I get asked this question a lot. The truth: Millennials are expected to outspend every other generation of consumers this year. Millennials are a HUGE generation that is entering the front end of their prime wealth accumulation and spending phase.

Millennials are also (finally) starting families—albeit later than other generations. This is impacting everything from financial services and car sales to retailers, restaurants, hospitals, consumer technology, and insurance. Not only are Millennials now the trendsetters in most of these categories, but Millennials are also the number one generation to refer a friend to a business or salesperson.

A few important takeaways I share in my keynote speeches are how any generation can communicate, market, build trust, and grow with Millennials. Yes, this generation shops and buys very differently than other generations, but you can absolutely make it work for you and your brand.

We find Millennials to be the untapped engine of revenue growth for most of our clients. When you bridge this gap, it’s incredibly exciting because it creates better experiences for Millennials and faster growth for all types of brands, from legacy to startups.

 

What will happen when you are no longer a Millennial?

Yes. I’ve actually been asked this question. More than once.

Just so we’re all on the same page: You stay in the same generation. You just go through different life stages.

I will always be a Millennial. I just keep getting older (a fact which my Gen Z daughter likes to frequently remind me). For context, Baby Boomers were once teenagers—and so was Gen X. Both generations still have memories of awesome live concerts to prove it!

In short, while each generation consistently gets older, you still remain in the same generation.

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Want more on Millennials?

At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we have Ph.D. researchers, consultants, a behavioral designer, and many more who work alongside me to understand Millennials from a variety of angles. We look at Millennials in the workplace as employees, managers, influencers, and entrepreneurs. We also look at Millennials as consumers, tastemakers, and trendsetters—especially because of the hidden trends they spark.

Visit The Center’s website to see more of our Millennial research.

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Do you have a question about Millennials?

Email me the question or ask me on Twitter: @JasonDorsey.

I often answer reader-submitted questions in my newsletter with over 40,000 subscribers! I’m inspired by your interest in Millennials and my mission to separate Millennial myth from truth through data.

Please reach out to me if you’d like me to speak at an event or talk about leading custom research that shows you how to unlock the potential of Millennials.

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