What do you think of when you hear the term "millennials?" The U.S. Census Bureau defines the millennial generation as people born between 1982 and 2000 (ages 17 to 35), and while this is certainly a pretty wide age range, there are certain trends and characteristics that have emerged about this generation. Here are 14 particularly interesting facts you might be surprised to learn about millennials.
1. The millennial generation is made of 92 million people
This makes the millennials the biggest generation in U.S. history. For comparison, the massive baby-boomer generation has about 77 million people. What's more, millennials make up nearly half of the current U.S. workforce.
2. Millennials are staying single much longer than previous generations
According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, just 23% of adults ages 18-31 were married and living in their own households in 2012. In contrast, 56% of that age group were married and in their own households in 1968. This is often attributed to higher debt levels and smaller incomes than previous generations. In fact, the median age for a newly married individual is 30 years old in the 2010s, while it was just 23 years old in the 1970s.
3. Millennials are earning 20% less than their parents did
To further illustrate why millennials are delaying life events such as marriage and homeownership, consider that, when adjusting for inflation, the average worker in the 24-36 age group earns $10,000 less than their parents' generation did at the same age, which is roughly 20% less purchasing power. Meanwhile, the average student debt for a millennial is double that of the previous generation.
4. Millennials save an average of 8% of their salaries for retirement
Despite the lower salaries and higher debt levels, millennials do just as good a job of saving for retirement as older generations. The 8% savings rate matches that of Generation Xers, and is just 1 percentage point shy of baby boomers, according to a T. Rowe Price study.
5. 48% of Millennials expect to work at least part-time in retirement
According to the same T. Rowe Price study, nearly half of millennials expect to work at least part-time in retirement. Just 42% believe that they'll have to lower their standard of living after they retire, which indicates significantly more retirement confidence than Gen Xers (49%) or baby boomers (57%).
6. 19% of millennials automatically increase their retirement contributions
Nearly 1 in 5 millennials have their retirement savings contribution rate set to increase each year automatically. This may not sound like much, but it's significantly higher than the 15% of Gen Xers and 10% of baby boomers who do the same.
7. 60% of millennials expect Social Security to go bankrupt before they retire
While the latest projections call for Social Security to run out of money in 2034, the program will still be able to pay out more than three-fourths of promised benefits. While this may be one area where millennials have an unnecessarily pessimistic view, it seems that millennials are not confident in the long-term viability of Social Security.
8. 93% of millennial renters plan to buy a home someday
The vast majority of millennials want to own homes someday in the future, according to data from Trulia. However, since millennials are waiting much longer than previous generations to buy, experts believe that this could lead to a massive surge in home sales in the coming years.
9. 57% of millennials compare prices in the store
Even though many millennials still shop at brick-and-mortar retailers, the majority of them compare prices online via their smartphones while they're doing so. This has put pressure on retailers to price-match their online counterparts, and has made it difficult for many retailers to remain profitable, especially those that have traditionally offered marked-up discretionary goods.
10. 90% of millennials use coupons
11. 83% of younger millennials disapprove of smokers
The millennial generation is much more focused on wellness than the past few generations. Even within the millennial generation, the overall attitude toward unhealthy activities, like smoking, has shifted significantly. I'm on the older threshold of the millennial generation, and in 1998, when I was in high school, 69% of 12th graders disapproved of adults smoking a pack or more of cigarettes a day. In 2013, that figure had risen to 83%.
12. The average millennial owns 7.7 connected devices
As the first generation to grow up with technologies such as the internet and mobile phones, this probably isn't too surprising. Not only does the average millennial own nearly eight connected devices, but they use more than three of them on the average day. Furthermore, the average millennial spends 18 hours on their smartphone each week.
13. Millennials value experiences over ownership
According to Eventbrite, 78% of millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience than on a physical product that they want. In fact, despite the public perception about the "death of retail," many businesses that sell experience-based products, such as movie theaters, waterparks, and ski resorts, have been doing quite well in the challenging retail environment.
14. Millennials don't like traditional work environments
Eighty-two percent of millennials say that they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options, such as the ability to work remotely, according to a FlexJobs Report. The report also found that 6 in 10 millennials think that they would be more productive at home as opposed to working in an office.