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Why We’re Wrong About Millennials

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Businesses spend millions of dollars trying to understand them. News outlets write thousands of articles about them. And the public thinks they’re pampered phone-addicts that live in their parents’ house.

Millennials.

What are millennials anyway? There are a few ways to define this age group, but for clarity’s sake, we will define the term as Pew Research does. According to their chart, millennials were born between 1981 and 1996.

The world is fascinated by this demographic. Here’s a spattering of popular content about millennials:

In 2016, Inside Quest interviewed Simon Sinek about millennials and the video went viral with 11 million+ views. In it, he says millennials are lazy, narcissistic, entitled, and addicted to their phones.

A lot of people agreed with his views, but are these opinions a fair understanding?

This article seeks to explain why some stereotypes about millennials are inaccurate. Consider these thoughts on why we may be wrong about millennials:

Opinions about millennials are similar to every generation in history

Popular opinions about millennials include:

  • They’re pampered and spoiled
  • They won’t work hard and expect to be rewarded
  • They’re given everything, yet complain endlessly

But here’s the thing – adults have been saying this is about younger generations for centuries. Compare these quotes from the past and our current century:millennial_chart

Amazingly, people complained about young baby boomers the same way baby boomers complain about millennials. And you know what? When millennials get older, I bet they’ll complain about the younger generation the same way too.

This historical pattern reveals that millennials are not unique in these regards. In the 1950s, young people were apparently “pampered” by technology and preferred busses over walking.

In the 1990s, they said that the younger Generation X lived better than the previous generation but complained about life more.

Even 2000+ years ago, Aristotle said the youthful thought they knew everything and were insolent.

Sound familiar?

Are only millennials pampered complainers? Or are they just like every other generation of humans? The more logical conclusion is…

People change as they get older

If people progress properly, they become wiser and more experienced as they age. It’s natural for the older to view the younger as foolish and inexperienced.

Our older selves are significantly different than our younger selves. We should apply a similar grace to millennials. They will grow and mature as previous generations did.

Opinions on millennials downplay external factors

This is a frustrating injustice that all of us have experienced – being blamed for something that was beyond our control. There may be certain trends among millennials, but how much is due to circumstances they grew up in?

A few condemning stereotypes about millennials conveniently overlook external factors that were beyond their control. Here are two examples:

Tech advancement coincided with millennials’ coming of age

Have you heard that millennials are screen-centered, phone-addicted slaves to technology? Well, it’s partly true.

A study by Akademiai revealed female college students spend 10 hours a day on their phones and male college students spend 8 hours a day on their phones.

Part of this phenomenon has to do with recent technological advancements. Common in-person activities have evolved into online activities. For example, you can use your phone to…

  • Do banking
  • Email, text, photography, and video
  • Network on social media
  • Apply for jobs
  • Order food
  • Listen to music
  • Find a date
  • Research questions
  • Use handy tools like a calculator, dictionary, stopwatch, alarm, or notebook
  • Watch a how-to video

When you consider these developments it’s natural to conclude that people will be on their phones more, especially individuals who grew up with access to mobile devices.

If there’s a broken copy machine at work, someone is bound to watch a how-to video on their phone. If it’s ten minutes before lunch, someone will most likely order pizza through an app. Where employees used to play the radio while working, now they will opt to stream music on their phones.

Do people goof off on their phones? Absolutely. But not all phone usage is bad. It seems like millennials are ruthlessly thrashed for using their phones. Sometimes they’re just following a map app to a new location or reading current events.

Don’t forget about the ‘08 recession

Another common stereotype about millennials is that they do not work hard and are financially irresponsible. They live with their parents into late adulthood, spend too much on avocado toast, and have tons of student loans.

A study by Urban Institution revealed that millennials are less likely to be wealthy compared to previous generations at their age.

But is the financial state of millennials due to incompetence and poor work ethic? Research tells a different story. According to a U.S Travel Association survey, millennials are workaholics.

They surveyed 5,000 full-time employees and found millennials are more likely to forfeit vacation days than other age groups. Millennials were also more likely to agree with these statements:

  • “I want to show complete dedication to my company and job.”
  • “I don’t want others to think I am replaceable.”
  • “I feel guilty for using my paid time off.”

In other words, millennials are working hard, but they’re not making as much money.

When we combine these two studies, poor work ethic isn’t the issue affecting millennial wealth. The more likely conclusion is the poor state of the economy.

Thousands of millennials graduated college with huge student loans only to enter an American workforce shattered by a real estate bubble.

Investments were lost. Homes were foreclosed. In the months after the bubble burst, unemployment peaked at 10%.

With the rising cost of real estate and stricter lending standards, it’s no wonder that millennials are less likely to own a home than previous generations.

Opinions on millennials are rarely based on evidence and data

There’s a lot of talk about millennials, but it’s rarely based on evidence and data. A prime example is IQ’s interview with Simon Sinek, which was earlier cited. In this 15 minute video, Sinek doesn’t reference a single source for his opinions.

While Sinek has interaction with millennials, his experience is a tiny fragment of a huge demographic.

And he’s not the only one. There are some silly articles out there that are just baseless in their claims:

There’s tons of talk and ink spilled about millennials, but there isn’t a lot of solid, reliable information out there.

What’s worse is that readers have some experiences with millennials that match these theories and conclude, “Oh wow, that information was true.”

Eventually, so many people buy into these claims that readers suffer from groupthink. If the majority believes millennials are filling the void of their heart with houseplants, well then it must be true.

We need fewer stereotypes and more research

Jokes are good from time to time and every civilized society needs humor, but many of these stereotypes don’t accurately portray millennials. Just because content goes viral and a lot of people believe it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
To properly understand millennials, we need to actually study them and produce informed opinions based on research. Good places to start are Pew Research and Census.gov. You can also conduct your own surveys with SurveyHero.

Not only is this approach more ethical than rehashing stereotypes, but it will also help us navigate familial and business relationships. Millennials will be less misunderstood, and we will understand them better.

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

Earlier this week we discussed four common regrets that retirees have when they look back at their golden years. One of the most common regrets was filing for Social Security benefits at 62, the earliest possible age. According to the Social Security Administration, about 1 out of 3 people apply for benefits at that age.

The regret is that if they had waited longer to file for their benefits, their monthly check would be much larger. For example, by delaying filing for Social Security until age 70, your monthly benefits can be as much as 75% larger than someone who filed at age 62. That’s because benefits grow by a guaranteed 5% to 8% each year that you delay your claim.

But there are always two sides to a coin. Today we wanted to discuss the benefits of filing for Social Security as soon as possible. With this, you can decide which approach you believe will benefit you the most.

The Case For Filing Social Security Early

The earliest you can file for Social Security benefits is age 62, but each month you file before reaching your full retirement age (FRA) cuts your monthly benefit amount. As an example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start your claim at age 62, your monthly check will be reduced by approximately 30%.

Despite the reduced monthly benefit that comes with filing early, tens of millions of Americans make that decision every year. And it boils down to one line:

We have no idea what the future holds.

The financial benefits of waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security make complete sense. But we don’t know how long we will live, so we don’t know if the trade-off is worth it. If we knew we would live a long, healthy life until age 100, we would all delay filing until age 70 and reap the maximum reward.

But if you decided to wait until age 70 to claim, and unfortunately passed away before that, you would have foregone all the retirement income from age 62 on.

Waiting to file is a gamble, but so is giving up guaranteed monthly income starting at age 62.

Deciding when to claim your benefits requires serious thought and shouldn’t be a hastily made decision. And we aren’t saying that filing Social Security immediately at 62 or waiting until age 70 is the right choice. Every situation is different. If you are still healthy and working, waiting a few years passed 62 to claim but not all the way to 70 might be a good compromise. You’ll get a larger check than had you claimed right away, and your regular working income can make up for some of the reduced benefit amount since you didn’t wait until age 70.

The most important thing, whether you file at 62 or 70, is to find enjoyment in your golden years.

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the next stimulus bill will be much more targeted than previous bills. He also said the goal is to get the next bill approved between July 20 and the end of this month. That time is when Congress will return from their holiday break and before they leave for August recess.

On Broad Stimulus Measures

It appears the White House will not support the type of broad stimulus measures of the previous bills. Instead, it will focus on direct payments to Americans. In an interview with CNBC yesterday, Mnuchin said “we do support another round” of stimulus checks to individuals. This mirrors the $1,200 payments that the government sent out as part of the $2 trillion rescue legislation passed in March.

Mnuchin didn’t mention whether he supported the idea of a $40,000 income cap to receive a check that has been floated by GOP lawmakers. The income cap for the first stimulus check was $75,000. He did say that he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also mentioned the “level and criteria” for checks would be discussed when lawmakers return to Washington.

Any new stimulus bill would likely not include proposals from the Democrats that include hazard pay for essential workers. It likely won’t include a longer extension of strengthened unemployment benefits, mortgage and rent relief, and support for state and local governments, too.

Mnuchin reiterated that the White House isn’t in favor of more relief money for states and municipalities to make up for lost revenue. Some state and local governments are considering trimming essential services as costs balloon and revenues drop. He said the administration does not want to “bail out” states that were “mismanaged” before the virus hit.

On Unemployment Benefits

Another critical topic the lawmakers will tackle the end of the enhanced unemployment benefits on July 30. They will do so when they return to Washington D.C.

Mnuchin said the White House has no interest in extending the enhanced benefits any further. Instead, he said it wants to change how they pay benefits. He did not give details. However, he did hint that unemployed workers shouldn’t be able to earn more money compared to full-time employees

“You can assume that it will be no more than 100%” of a worker’s usual pay, Mnuchin said. This echoes many Republicans who argue the additional benefits are preventing some from returning to work. These workers do this so that they make more at home than they would at their jobs.

While Mnuchin says the White House isn’t in favor of extending unemployment benefits, it is extending the Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans for small businesses. Earlier this week the Trump administration released a list of companies that received loans from the government. With that, backlash ensued as numerous businesses tied to wealthy individuals were found to have requested funds. Of the $130 billion remaining in the program, Mnuchin said he wants new relief to be “much, much more targeted” than past rounds of funding.

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Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’

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Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’

White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow says that the country is squarely in the middle of the “v-shaped” recovery that everyone had hoped for, and despite reports of coronavirus hotspots popping up, shutting down the economy for a second time would make the “solution worse than the disease.”

Kudlow spoke on “Fox and Friends” yesterday and said that the White House is monitoring the jump in new coronavirus cases in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but added that as a country we now know what works to stop the spread, and just need to work together.

“We know the right mitigation, which has worked, and if we use that wholeheartedly and respect each other, I think we’ll get out of this pretty well and it will not stop the V-shaped recovery.”

On A Second Shutdown

He added that a second shut down would be a “really big mistake.”

“Another shutdown, in itself is controversial,” and would “do more harm than good,” said Kudlow before adding, “It would harm everyone. Not just businesses — the V-shaped recovery would give way. It would harm kids, we saw numbers on depression, drinking and so on… that solution would be worse than the disease.”

Kudlow highlighted the job growth in the last two months, and pointed out that jobs are being added back so quickly, workers are now quitting jobs to search for new, higher-paying ones.

He said there existed a “tremendous burst of jobs in May and June” and “tremendous record hiring rates. People are starting to quit their jobs again, which is extraordinary, in order to shop around for better jobs and wages.”

All those workers looking for jobs should bring down the unemployment rate to as low as 7% iby the end of the year, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard.

That would be quite a rollercoaster ride for the job market, which has swung from a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5% earlier this year, to a post-WWII high of 14.7% in April.

U.S. Economy Doing “Very Well”

Appearing on “Closing Bell” yesterday, Bullard said “I think we’re tracking very well right now. Seems to me like by the end of the year you can get down certainly to single digits, probably even below 8%, maybe 7% by the end of the year.”

A surge in new cases could slow the re-hiring of workers across the country, but Bullard believes that wearing a mask will become standard and that will help bring back jobs and boost the economy.

“If we get to that situation, we’ll have the disease under control,” he said. “What I like about that scenario is it does not rely on a vaccine coming or a therapeutic coming. We can use simple, easy technology that we have today, get a good situation, get most of the production back to normal.”

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