Consumer Insights · Media Strategy · Brand Planning | Los Angeles, CA

Oh Great—Millennials Are About to Get Even Less Ambitious

Another postcard from the much-maligned Gen Y this weekend: apparently, people stop trying to get ahead around age 35, according to the Families and Work Institute, via the Atlanic. Getting ahead in this case is defined as seeking more responsibility at the office:

Percent of Workers Who Would Like More Responsibility in Their Jobs


The accompanying article presents the shift as primarily a men-vs.-women trend, pointing out that while males track a little higher for go-getterness throughout their careers, the trend line moves in virtually the same way regardless of gender. So the supposed feminine urge to build a nest and turn into June Cleaver isn’t really the driving force here. But back to the age group that’s about to go over the responsibility cliff.

The unemployment rate for 18-24 year-olds remains stubbornly high, roughly twice that of the national average. Feel free to ignore a distorted labor market and an out-of-sync education system and attribute that to hanging out on their parents couch Twittering all day if you want. Regardless, young people’s careers are getting started awfully late, these days. Even I (I love it when I get to be part of a trend) was on the bottom rung of my vocation at age 28, though thankfully it was due to a choice to change careers rather than getting sucked into the unemployment vortex. So how are we supposed to lose our drive when we just got assigned a desk?

2008 is apparently the most recent data on this topic, but I hope they repeat the study again soon. If they do, I suspect they’ll find the curve shifted to the right. The plunge might even become less extreme in the 55+ age categories, as our boomer parents hang around the workforce like that irritating person at the end of a house party. Then again, I guess we can’t blame mom and dad for not wanting to eat Alpo in their golden years. Maybe we could all use a little inter-generational understanding.


Home Sweet Cubicle Embroidery Hoop Art by Hey Paul Studios, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Hey Paul Studios 
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