A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed some fascinating findings on Gen Y. According to the study, 40% of young adults age 18-24 were in college in 2008, which is a higher percentage than any previous generation. Great news for employers, but despite their higher educations levels, Gen Y’s lack of experience also means they have the highest share of unemployment (or are simply out of the workforce) of any generation in nearly four decades.
As the recession ends and the economy picks back up, Gen Y will enter the workforce in record numbers as many Baby Boomers, who continued working because of their plummeting 401(k)s, finally retire. That also means good news for Gen X—you’re about to move into higher management positions as Boomers start to phase themselves out of the workforce.
The study also revealed some interesting insights on how Gen Y differs from other generations. Here are a few highlights:
• Their families are different. Only 61% grew up in a two-parent household, the smallest number in three generations.
• They are starting families later. Only 21% of Gen Y is married, half the percentage of their parents’ generation.
• They are active. Compared to previous generations at the same age, Gen Y is more willing to vote and more likely to volunteer for a cause.
For employers, the increased volunteerism of Gen Y shows a willingness to go above and beyond, which is perhaps the key characteristic of an engaged employee. And Gen Y has to be hungry to work—after so much time spent in school, it’s finally time to embark on a career. What better combination could employers ask for?
The face of the workforce is changing. Companies that recognize (and act on) that change will be a step ahead of the competition as the country emerges from the recession.