This could be a big year for the Millennial generation. As a group, those born between 1981 and 1997 could finally overcome the number of Baby Boomers and become the most dominant force in the economy and society. Sometimes they get a bad rap for being too into their digital worlds, or staying at home too long with their parents. But they might be smarter than you think with some of the actions they are taking. Here are four surprising facts you might not know about the up-and-coming Millennial generation:
• They’re Learning to Save Money: You thought they were crazy for living at home, but they are wisely using that opportunity to put a little money in the bank. According to the Consumer Federation of America’s ninth annual America Saves Week survey, the percentage of Millennials who saved at least 5% of their income increased from 50% to 56%. They are learning to develop savings plans and are sticking to them – not bad for a bunch of “slackers”!
• They’re Pretty Good Workers: Millennials don’t seem to mind working; they just want to do it within their own parameters. Many of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For seem to agree, and are willing to adapt their policies to attract these younger workers. Pew Research also found that millennials value job security, even more than their elder boomers. They just won’t stay at a job they don’t like.
• They Like to Be Challenged: Because they have grown up being able to quickly adapt to changing technology, they don’t mind being challenged on the job. They like things that go beyond the routine, enjoy learning new techniques, and want to have some variety.
• They May Not be As Far Behind on Their Student Loans as We Think: A great deal has been made of the student loan debt burden the Millennials are carrying. On the surface, it might seem like they are shirking their responsibilities to repay their student loans, but there is actually a very small percentage that is in outright default. Instead they might just be taking advantage of income-based repayment plans, or they could be deferring their payments while they get more education or serve in the military. Some could be working toward loan forgiveness by teaching or working in the public sector.
Parents, educators, and employers may have to do a little learning to deal with this new generation of adults. They’re definitely not your grandmother’s idea of by-the-book disciplinarians, but that doesn’t mean their way of doing things is wrong. It’s just different.
For all the hand-wringing the older generation likes to do about this generation, perhaps the Millennials aren’t as bad as they are being made out to be. They are certainly going to do things their way but, when it comes right down to it, they are turning out to be a generation of money-saving, hard-working, loan-paying adults. And that’s not such a bad thing after all, is it?