Millennials More Educated But Less Employable Than Generation X

Unemployed existence

What has been your impression of the millennial generation? Is it a group of tech-savvy, highly-educated and inclusive hip kids or a demographic consumed by worthless degrees, indebtedness and unemployment? Well, according to the latest research, it’s a little bit of both.

The Pew Research Center is out with another report on the millennial generation and how it compares to its three predecessors - Silents (69 to 84), Baby Boomers (50 to 68) and Generation Xers (34 to 49). Overall, the data suggested that millennials are the most educated but least employed generation.

According to Pew, the millennial generation will be viewed as the generation that got the most college degrees, but it won’t be described as the generation that received the same level of employment opportunities as their older counterparts.

Women Making Gains 

When it comes to education, more millennial women are attaining pieces of paper, even more so than their older sisters, mothers and grandmothers. Moreover, millennial females are outnumbering their male counterparts in terms of post-secondary degrees. However, as suspected, it isn’t translating to employment.

Millennial women are having a difficult time seeking work. These women are less employed than Gen Xers, but are still more likely to work than Baby Boomers and Silents. However, it should be noted that the employment landscape is completely different: younger female Baby Boomers and Silents stayed home and raised the family.

"Among Boomer women who were not in the labor force in their young adult lives, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate a majority of them were devoted to domestic activities, but less so than among young Silent generation women," Pew averred in its report. "When non-working adults were asked about the ’major activity’ that consumes their time, 70% of young Boomer women cited ’housework,’ compared with 85% among young Silent women. Among Boomer women, 22% cited ’school’ as their major activity, an increase from the 12% among Silent women. (This detailed information about reasons for not being labor force participants is not available for Gen Xers or Millennials.)" 

Millennial Men Hurt the Most 

Citing the economic collapse and financial crisis, millennials are less likely to be employed than their Generation X peers. Millennial males were the most affected during the Great Recession; not only are they currently trailing Gen Xers in the workforce, they’re less employed than Baby Boomers and the Silents were at the same age.

The trend presents a grim picture for millennial men: they’re likely to be out of work and either looking for a job or in school. 

In addition, even the complexion of millennials is changing. Pew stated that millennials are becoming less white, more urban and unmarried. Here is a breakdown when it comes to this area:

  • Millennials are approaching half non-white; Hispanics making up the plurality. 
  • Millennials are most likely to live in urban areas, much like most of the U.S. 
  • A little more than one-quarter of millennials were ever married, compared to 64 percent of Silents at the same age. 

Philip Bump of the Washington Post opines that a lot of this data makes sense because millennials are spending a lot more time in school and thus not entering the workforce or getting married prematurely. He does ask, however, what the next generation will be like, considering that they’re soon able to vote.

"Do we need to explicitly explore the political ramifications of some of this?" Bump wrote. "We’re going to assume not. Perhaps the most interesting question, though, is what the next generation, those just starting to be old enough to vote, will look like. A hint: Trends trend." 

See Also: Janet Yellen to U.S. Congress: Millennials Are Still a Mystery

The other important question to ask is: can a college education produce affluence? Although it is better to have some sort of education, it’s still imperative to choose an in-demand skill to lead a prosperous lifestyle.

Do you think a college degree is a wate of time in the current economic climate? Your thoughts and comments below please...

Washington Post
Pew Research Center