Grasping The Mindset Of The Next Generation

The Labor Department released its delayed Jobs Report on Monday, announcing that American employers added 148,000 jobs in September, well below the forecast of 180,000.  For the youth of America, transitioning into adulthood has become more delayed and harder to reach – a reality that will result in a lasting impact on the country’s society and economy, and play into the “lost generation” that many economists have identified for millennials.

As this lost generation becomes more apparent to Americans, we explore the aspirations of teenagers who will be faced with this bleak job market upon matriculating out of high school.  How has this impacted their outlook on life? What has changed? 

College is still very much in the picture 

Even with a crippling, country-wide $1.2 trillion student debt and the expectation that two-thirds of students will graduate owing money, teenagers still rate finishing a college degree as a number one future priority. Ninety-three% reported that they would either “definitely” or “probably” obtain a college degree by their mid-twenties. This could be attributed to our society’s growing expectation that a college diploma is required for a better job, and a student debt is part of the investment. 



They are still confident 

In terms of their career, 81% of teenagers feel that they are likely to have a “great-paying job” by the time they are 25. Displaying their “we-want-it-all” perspective, 80% of teens also believe they will be serving in a “job where they can make a difference” by that age. Perhaps it is a result of our society’s adoption of positive reinforcement, but the numbers facing recent college graduates do not reflect the same positivity. According to a BBC survey published in 2013, teenagers have a weak grasp of the availability of jobs and large numbers of them will be aiming for jobs that are in short supply. In light of the economy, students may seek higher education elsewhere, and trade schools are likely to make a comeback in providing affordable pre-professional training.

Travel and Marriage 

Only 12% of teenagers reported that they would “definitely” be married by age 25 and only 9% would “definitely” have children.  This isn’t surprising, considering today’s lack of job security and stability. Interestingly though, while marriage has waned, the%age of couples living together has increased. According to the report, between 2006 and 2010, nearly half of heterosexual women ages 15 to 44 (48%) said they were not married to their spouse or partner when they first lived together, compared to 43% in 2002, and 34% in 1995. This could be driven by the cost of living and the amount of money that can be saved when splitting rent, as well as by a societal deviation from traditional marriage expectations. 

Also interesting to note is that 71% of teenagers reported they would “definitely or probably” travel to other countries before their mid-20s. This can be explained by the Millennial’s globalized view—this is the first generation growing up in a world connected by technology in ways unimaginable to previous generations. As a result, they are more likely to see the world as accessible and open to them. 

What is becoming increasingly evident is that the expectations and aspirations of teens a decade ago no longer applies to this generation’s adolescents, most likely due to the larger macroeconomic climate they face today. While confidence still reigns high, it is advisable for teenagers and their parents to take a hard look at what is going on today and how they can be best positioned to succeed in this new world. And for brands, it is important to consider how they can grow with these current teenagers to foster long-lasting relationships and affirm brand loyalty during this tumultuous time. 

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