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Millennials are growing up and bucking assumptions — but not starting businesses

February 06, 2020

A recent survey of millennials by professional services firm Ernst and Young (EY) provides insights into how the generation is aging — and bucking some long-held assumptions. Evaluating the generation’s trends in living arrangements, lifestyle and career preferences, financial health, and social perspectives, EY found that some of the assumptions about millennials are not holding.

For instance, the survey found that millennials — loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 2000 — are looking to put down roots and buy houses — cost effectively and not only in urban centers — although they still lag behind their predecessors in terms of home ownership rates at each age. Millennials are also less risk averse than may have been originally thought. While they still value job flexibility, the prevailing theory that they prefer the startup culture of work has been shown to be false. Millennials now appear to prefer the stability and growth opportunities provided by larger and more established organizations. Job flexibility and work-life balance are still the top concerns, but many millennials also put more stock into the value of pay equity, with 47 percent listing it as one of their top two career concerns.

This new-found desire for stability may explain why — despite claiming to feel very entrepreneurial — more millennials are not starting their own businesses. While 58 percent expressed the desire to start their own businesses in 2018, only 4 percent of 30-year-old millennials reported self-employment compared to nearly 7 percent of baby boomers when they were the same age. The primary reason given for not starting a business was that they did not have the financial means to do so.

Many millennials are concerned about the future, having lived through multiple recessions, including the Great Recession. With a deeper sense of caution and a stronger wariness of political and economic institutions, more millennials report feeling economically vulnerable despite a general feeling that the economy is performing well. Pondering their future, 75 percent of millennials report being worried about a lack of Social Security at their retirement — with 70 percent being generally worried they will not have enough money to live on at retirement.

entrepreneurship, millennials