In a Linked-in article this past week, the author claimed that by 2025 the Millennial generation will represent 75% of the US workforce. This is simply not true. It’s not the first time, I’ve seen some exaggerated statement about how the “next great generation” is taking over. In fact, the estimates seem to get higher by the month. Having spent the past 20 years researching generational demographics and characteristics, this makes me a little nuts. So let’s set the record straight once and for all, at least in round numbers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be approximately 164 million members of the civilian workforce in 2020. (It hasn’t published an estimate for 2025.) According to the US Census, the Millennial generation resulted in 81 million births. (1981-1999) Now, we could add to this number those who have immigrated to the US, legally or illegally, who are this same age. Then we need to subtract Millennials who have died, are serving in the military, along with those who have never entered the workforce or who have left for a variety of reasons. (I could spend a few days with government estimates and my calculator, but you get the point.)
But, if we generously assume that all members of the Millennial generation have joined the workforce (81 million) and we even add ten percent (8.1 million) to this number due to immigration, that gives us with a total of 89 million members in the civilian workforce in present terms. Of course, this number will diminish over the next five years due to deaths and those who leave for other reasons. So if seventy-five percent of the 2020 estimate of 164 million is 123 million, that will leave us with a gap of at least 34 million. Hmmm . . .
We have all seen a continual stream of stories coming out of the media, consulting firms, and independent writers claiming that the Millennials are taking over and the rest of us should step out of the way and learn from these digital wizards. Some of these are written by Millennials who happily believe all this clap-trap. So why don’t we all take a deep breath and embrace a little perspective. The Baby Boomers and Xers have a lot to learn about Millennial learning styles, desired approaches to work, and attitudes about life in general. But the same should be said of the Millennials. Enough with the wild-ass estimates and claims. Let’s just get to work.