Infographic Of The Day: The Blessing And Curse Of Being A Millennial

Millennials are well-educated, tech-savvy, and independent. They're also cursed by a bad economy. But all this might have a silver lining...

You heard constantly about the millennial generation—that they’re tech-savvy, and different from everyone that came before. It’s not just hype, or vanity on the part of the youngsters: People who are 18-29 right now have markedly different attitudes, beliefs, and mores than any generation preceding them.

This infographic by Online Graduate Programs does a good job of summing up all that data. Let’s start with a definition of the generation, and their politics:

It’s that second panel about politics that’s really surprising: The percentage voting for Obama represents the largest age-based disparity ever recorded. It’s worth pausing on that for a second, because voting, contrary to popular opinion, doesn’t tend to change all that much as you age. Political scientists have consistently shown that who you vote for as a young person tends to define your voting patterns for the rest of your life. Thus, some people have concluded that the entire millennial generation has been "lost" to Republicans. (And if you think that they’ll change their minds because of Obama’s first-term struggles, think again: 60% blame his opponents for his inability to get anything done.)

But where the differences become truly stark are in lifestyle. Millennials are the most godless, least-married, and most tech-savvy generation ever:

But despite all these gifts—an ease with technology, excellent educations, a surprisingly durable optimism—millennials are at the same time cursed. Simply put, they were born at the worst time in 50 years as far as careers go, having entered a horrid job market:

Does that matter? In a word, yes: Sociologists have shown that being born in a recession dampens your earnings throughout your lifetime, simply because the first jobs you get are the ones that define much of your success in later life. Almost all the wage increases that you’ll get arrive before you’re 40. Thus, if you enter the workforce and struggle to find a job, you’ll be consistently hobbled by a lack of experience and tenure.

But maybe that’s a good thing. It may be that millennials are a generation apart in one sense that hasn’t shown up yet in the data: Plagued by dead-end career prospects, many seem to have turned to everything from crafts to self-improvement as a way to find meaning outside of what they do. A less materialistic, more happiness-focused generation seems like a very good thing given how obsessed America has been with simply getting more, no matter what. But it might also be that a lack of prospects makes this generation the most entrepreneurial we’ve ever seen—after all, innovation is usually born during times of hardship.

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53 Comments

  • Angileri4

    It seems we are all a little partial to our own near and dear generational 'title'.  As a 35 year old, I am a Generation X-er with Millenial tendencies.  I asked an older Generational X-er, who is a colleague of mine at a community college, her take on the 'Millenial'.  My colleague attended a conference on teaching practices across the generations, which was insightful to understand different generational learning styles.  Her impression was that she can see a pool of Millenials derive from 'Baby Boomer helicopter parents'.  Evidence of this would be the students who feel that we need to remind them or check in on them during class progress.  Whereas Generation Xers were raised more independently, we know where the syllabus is and how to use it.  I do give some thought to parental age.  As a 35 year old, I am technically old enough to have birthed a 'Millenial', but rather opted to pop out 4 'Generation Z (Clicks)'.     
     
    Millenials are also criticized for their work ethic.  Any other generation would probably not think to breezily walk into a class, 20 minutes late and ask the instructor, "So, what did I miss last week?" 
     
    I do give note to the optimism of the 'Millenials', 60% report they don't make sufficient income, but 90% report they will one day.  I'm with you "Millenials".

  • Adrian-Lee Steininger

    I'm the over 55 generation and I am definitely not silent.  My father taught me to speak up when I saw people being mistreated, just as that girl who fought the Bank of America did.  Many older people have jobs they're not paid for.  We volunteer and use what we learned before computers, etc.  We are a godly generation and that is what this new generation is missing.  If you're missing something it's a relationship with your maker who was/is the Greatest Creator of all.  Talk about inventive, just look at all that was created in this world, more than just simple things geared at just one person.  We really care about all ages and are willing to help those who are in trouble, even this new generation.  Who is taking care of this generation-their parents and grandparents.  So be happy that you have parents and grandparents who do believe in a higher power and are willing to help even though a lot of older people are struggling to get by in today's economy.  We struggle but we still help those less fortunate than ourselves.  We still live in the richest country in the world.  On another note, look what happened when we took God out of our schools and politics!  Look at Columbine as an example plus many other shootings.  I'd like to see more respect for elders from this generation.  I am fortunate in that I have at least two of my grandchildren who respect me and all that I do, even though I am a person with a disability. I find ways to do things and take care of my own home and husband.  Remember you were brought up by that elder generation.  Anyway, God bless this generation...there is still time for them to come to the Lord and be really free and know what is truly important and that friends is people.  Love God!  Love your neighbor!  If we all loved each other even our enemies we'd have a better world.  I really feel that we don't have much more time.  God is coming sooner than a lot of people think to judge this world of ours.  Are we ready?

  • Fljohn

    All I can say dude is GTFOver it, stop justifying every thing you think is bad about other peoples life's based on your religious beliefs. Second I'm sure you as an individual didn't do much to help me, ever... so don't take credit for what other people, who happened to be around the same time as you, did. Thirdly I doubt that a more Christian population is going to solve anything in todays world, people will believe what they want and we'll all get along much better if people like you stop whining about it.

  • Rabbit9

    Um, the marketing demographic known as generation x were also known as SLACKERS.  Gen x has no work ethic.  We invented dicking around on the internet and pretending to work.  A lot of us have been perma-lance since the early 90s.   What the demographic known as Millennials has in common with the baby boomers is that they believe they are the first generation to ever be young. 

  • Guest

    I think this is a very good infographic.  It gives the
    information in a fast and aesthetically pleasing way.  What is most ironic is that it is likely a
    generational difference that is causing all the dissention.  I’m a Millenial and I’m drawn to this type of
    design.  It has a set color scheme,
    appropriate graphics, and a layout that helps make it easier to skim. 

     

    As for the information, I think it is relatively spot-on.  I don’t think that is a bad thing though.  I’m the younger sister; my older sister is a
    pharmacist and I work in marketing.  When
    talking to anyone outside our generation, she gets more acclaim.  It’s a “more impressive,” job.  And while she constantly assures me that what
    I’m doing is worth while as well, I struggled with it for a while.

     

    I think that the Millenial’s work on things just as much, our work
    just is not as likely to produce a tangible result; especially in the business
    world.

     

    Additionally, I agree whole-heartedly with what @Spiegro said
    below.  Our generation has been told all
    our lives that we can do anything, be anything, achieve anything.  Yet now that we are attempting to do that you
    diminish and insult us for doing things a different way.

     

    Every change is going to have good and bad sides.  We are a far more open-minded generation which
    tends to conflict with religion, but that does not mean we will be a world of anarchic
    hellions.  It just means that religion,
    like all other parts of life, will need to adapt a little (which can already be
    seen happening in some sects).

     

    And perhaps the most important thing to point out is, if the older
    generations have such a problem with the new one, they really only have
    themselves to blame.  They influenced
    us.  Nature vs. Nurture, and until I’m
    shown a genetic cause for the way my generation thinks, I have to take the bulk
    of it back to our parents, teachers, etc.   

     

        

  • Brooke

    I think that people are being a bit harsh on the infographics. People often forget that infographics are meant to provide information to the masses. The design might not be the best, but it does what it is supposed to do. I have studied data visualization and taken  business intelligence courses so I know that there is better work out there. However, the basic point was certainly made.

  • Dave

    I 'm pretty certain that the data in this study was based on Americans as I'm almost certain that "Millenial" was a term coined in American Advertising and adopted by American Sociologists. Just putting that out there, in case anything comes across as being America-Centric.

  • Aboy

     My disclaimers - I am
    a mid ranking boomer, my parents were the product of the depression which
    coloured my upbringing, I served my country for several decades, I have spawned
    a millennial and survived (thus far).  I have
    a science/engineering background but embrace (some of) the concepts of design thinking.  I have worked for multi-nationals, I now run
    my own business, employ Millennials, and I contribute to community/sport programs
    .

     I am not American.  Interestingly,
    didn’t see a lot of comments from the connected generation that were not US
    centric.  So much for diversity of thought.

    My wife thinks I am a nerd. 
    I can do math, I have a facebook account, am “linked-in”, have a twitter
    account, follow Sarah Palin for the humour, run a blog, have a web site, use Google
    constantly for instant access to unverified research.  All that and I can spell.  Actually, I choose to make the effort to spell
    as I respect my readers by not being careless in the detail.  BTW “i” before “e” except after “c”, for the author
    of the very annoying post that got every instance wrong!

    I consider the claim of broad values to be an excuse for not
    choosing a direction.  A moral and
    ethical compass that waves all over the place takes you nowhere.  Have courage to develop an opinion and make a
    stand.  That doesn't mean bigotry.    

    I am a firm believer that happiness is not self
    gratification but comes from contributing to the betterment of others.  We enjoy the benefits of that premise from
    ages down.  

    The celebrated diversity of the Millennials is not a product
    of the Millennials, it is an environment created by those who have gone
    before.  So too is today’s diversity of
    religion, food, language, politics....  We
    enjoy travel, the internet, in fact the whole body of knowledge on which our society,
    as a product of the efforts of those who have gone before.  It matters little if it was an astounding
    scientific breakthrough or the micro business that allowed 2 or 3 people to
    enjoy a living, those who have gone before have made many positive contributions.

    Finding quality participants in my business from the Millennial
    generation has proved much harder than it ought to be.  The concept of self typically overwhelms the sense
    of contribution and participation.  The unacceptability
    of delay in self gratification and an inflated sense of self worth dilute the value
    that might be on offer.

    For my part I willingly make available, as a gift, all that has
    been given to me and all that I participated in creating.  But it is a gift to be granted at my
    choosing, not an entitlement to be demanded. 
     Access is earned.  This doesn’t mean subservience but it does
    call for respect and contribution.

    For a Baby Boomer, old age is an option and we are not
    taking it.  The responsibility that
    attaches to privilege would now appear to be assumed at a later age and so,
    too, is my handing over of the reins.

  • Lauren

    Some of the statistics, like percent still relying on family income, really have more to do with the age range than anything else. It's not as shocking as the article makes it seem. Fewer Gen Xer's rely on the income of their parents because Gen Xer's are between the ages of 30 and 45. That's normal.

  • Dave Hoffman

    I may be 51 but for what its worth let me urge you not to let the b-tards grind you down! 

  • Spiegro

    I think the disconnect here is that the older generations are still expecting us to build the brick and mortar businesses and homes that they did. That's fine, we might. But we might not. Asking for commitments to do meaningless work in an unknown future seems silly.

    I think you're all forgetting that what younger generations build tends to be something that did not exist previously. Maybe, just maybe, we can re-imagine how everything works; the economy, home life, work, and government all can change into something you've never seen before. 

    That scares some people, and change always will. But the trademark of our generation is that fear doesn't stop us from doing cool stuff. We've lived through very many tragedies, more than when you were children, collectively that is: Multiple simultaneous wars, more natural disasters than you can shake a stick at, and nothing but economic instability. We've never even known what stock market stability is!

    I don't think your fears are unfounded, not at all. I just think you all suffer from a lack of imagination when you address these problems, and that's why you don't see the solution. We are not lost, you just don't understand.

    We got this. Promise.

  • Spiegro

    (Disclaimer, I'm a Millenial)
    My mother, a Baby Boomer and tenured college professor, was worried about me and my generation while I was in high school (c/0 '02'). She worried about all of the "chilling," video games, television, lack of morals, and perceived addiction to technology.

    She doesn't worry any more, and continually heaps praise on my generation for a few very important differences she notices:

    The first: not only are we more diverse, but diversity isn't something that consistently pops up on our radar. We have friends with varied political beliefs, religious beliefs, and life goals, but none of it matters. Millenials are the product of Dr. King's "Dream," where the color of our skin (or any other difference) matters less than ever before. Sure we're a bunch of knuckleheads, but in the end, we have less inherited prejudices than any generation before us. That is something worth noting, because our world is littered with inherited prejudices (Palestine/Israel?), and it's our generation who finally seems ready to start a global village and accept each other's differences for the good of us all. It's not perfect, but it's tolerance and acceptance is the norm, not something we need to ask each other to do.

    The second: This is rather hard to describe, but I'll try; Our whole lives we've been told we can do anything, which some of you here suggests means we are entitled. Well, why is that a bad thing? We are entitled to reap the benefits of the hard work of our ancestors. Is that not what they were working for? Just putting your head down and working gets you nowhere in today's work place, it's the innovators and problem-solvers that get noticed and really make a difference. You criticize our dependence on using search engines to answer our questions, but would you rather we took a longer route for the same answer? These tools are here to help us solve problems, which enables us to address even bigger problems. Yes, those previous methods of research and analysis are important and should be taught, but criticizing the use of technology is hypocritical; didn't your parents criticize your fascination with getting a driver's license and borrowing the car when, back in their day, they used to ride their bikes or walk? It doesn't means we think walking sucks or riding a bike is useless, it just means when we decide to ride a bike it will be to enjoy riding a bike, maybe not exclusively for transportation. Why is that bad?

    The third (and final): We are resourceful, we just make it look easy. I work on a team of technical writers, and we have boomers, GenXrs, and Millenials all working on the same team at the same pay rate. The boomers print things out or take notes, the GenXrs write it all down in a Word doc (or Google Docs), but the Millenials are using wikis. It's not that we sat down and did some research about which tool works best for productivity. No, we said "let's try this," and we refused to be afraid of failure. All of you that criticize us for wanting a perfect job, what is the gripe about? Unemployment for our age group is at or above 20%, yet that means 80% are working our tails off in a down economy working for people who think we're lazy. We are different, and we might not be great at communicating why we do the things we do (yet), but our collective curosity will begin to solve those problems that previous generations thought would exist forever. Poverty, homelessness, disease, unfulfilling jobs, waste. All are problems that people before us just accepted as "how things are," we dare to say "maybe we can fix it."

    You told us we could do anything, you told us we could be what we wanted, we just never expected you to be angry at us for doing just that. Working at McDonald's just for the sake of having a job won't yield as many benefits as taking apart your broken Xbox because you've got nothing else to do. You all dared to dream of a world where people can do what they love and pursue happiness. You did it, congratulations. Now give us a second. When we're done playing video games we'll look at each other and say "there's got to be more to life than this," and we'll get up and start solving the world's problems, because our mom's said we could, and we believed them. So what if we entertain ourselves differently than you do? 

    Come at us, bro.

  • Derek Madsen

    Those that identify components of this diagram as shortfalls of a generation are missing the point.

    Stating that Tech and Culture set you apart doesn't mean that you identify those things as inherently positive. I beleive pop culture sets my generation apart, but not in a positive way. Let's recognize that millenials aren't the only ones watching trashy sensationalized television. 

    The value judgments that permeate these comments demonstrate the reasons that generation clash occurs in our organizations. If millenials are de-valued by those who they work for, what reason do they have to engage and buy in?

    The fact that there are more entrepreuners in our generation is a sign that the world has changed, the pace of work has shifted, and we are no longer in a production focused economy. Following directives blindly and showing up from 9-5 every day isn't work ethic, its conformity. Which, by the way, is what got us all into this giant economic mess in the first place. 

    Get off your pedestal, offer your expertise, and listen and learn. Understanding the views and beleifs of another person is a powerful way to gain wisdom and build capacity. 

  • Rachelle_eugenia

    If the chart didn't make me want to divorce my generation and adopt a smarter one the comments by my generation did! My generation lacks not only work ethics, respect (for anyone including themselves) and any moral compass they lack the capacity to think for themselves or use common sense. The fact that they choose to be known for pop culture (Jersey Shore, Teen Mom and the Bachelorette? Boy bands, King of Pop who touches boys, Kardashians, and Jack Ass?) speaks volumes to their lack of taste. But they can just point their finger at their parents and say "But mommy and daddy weren't home to teach us!"The because the generation before decided that more and bigger was better.

  • imadime

    as a manager (and GenX'er) with several milennials who work for me, i can certainly attest to the lack of work ethic.  i attribute it to being lazy, but not necessarily in the traditional sense.  what i mean is, lazy in a "if it's not in a google search, it must not exist," sort of way.  i honestly think the technology has crippled this generation in many ways.  
    i also find milennials (and not just the ones who work for me) to have a general attitude of entitlement...entitled to voice an opinion, entitled to be heard, entitled to a degree of influence, none of which they may have actually earned in many cases.  i'm sure you can imagine how well that goes over in the workplace.i have real concerns about this generation, not because of what's contained in this infographic, but because of what i see on a daily basis.  i also think that several of the responses here from milennials are case in point.  unfortunately, they don't seem to recognize it, though.

  • Joe

    These inforgraphics are really poorly done, which is appropriate for the most pathetic generation in American history. Hopefully, the creator of these graphics was using sarcasm while exhibiting "Millennial Pride."

  • Kelly

    These are terribly done infographics. 
    Color differentiation in the charts is non-existent, which make them difficult to read and the text utilizes poorly positioned line breaks making many descriptions difficult to read. In an infographic the *information* is just as important as the graphic.

    On a side note - sort of depressing that millennials think music and pop-culture set them apart whereas others had work ethic and intelligence. I want to switch my generation.

  • Bob Cross

    Excellent presentation of this "lost
    generation"  (my words), and a real indicator of why they will be
    marginalized even more that they already are.

    I do take a major exception to your hypothesis  that the Silent Generation  (65+) is set
    apart by  "WW ll/Depression and Intelligence".  Crap! 
    Anyone who was in WW ll and/or the Depression is now either over 90 or on the
    wrong side of the grass.

    My generation (I am 73), is also very strongly characterized by "work
    ethic".  Where we differ from the two generations that follow us with
    that same defining trait is that we had arguably the best music, the sexual revolution,
    and guaranteed jobs.  Oh yes, and
    Mariposa too!

  • Simon Field

    Pretty horrible to read but contains interesting information, which makes it worth the time to figure it all out.