Here’s why millennials might actually be better off than their baby boomer parents
Millennials have better job prospects than their parents ever did, at least according to a new report that says the tech-savvy nature of the country’s largest cohort will serve it well.
Laura Cooper, an economist with Royal Bank of Canada, looked at the future for Canada’s 9.8 million millennials and she says they are in “the driver’s seat” and will dominate Canada’s future in the same way that baby boomers did before them.
“Canadian millennials have inherited a labour environment in many ways better than that of their parents,” writes Cooper, who cites rising female participation in the workforce, increasing educational attainment and narrowing of wage differential between millennials, aged 20 to 34, and people of prime working age as trends now emerging.
The economist, who says much of the focus on millennials has pointed to a tough job market and high house prices, believes the rise of computers, the Internet and then smartphones coincided with the early years of that cohort and will serve them well in the future.
“For this generation, communicating through mobile devices and social media, engaging in e-commerce and consuming and producing digital content are second nature,” Cooper says. “These abilities ensure they will have a significant impact on the evolution of Canadian economic activity.”
Cooper says millennial youth are pursuing more education, which is contributing to a larger share of them working part-time. In 2015, 35 per cent of 20- to 24-year-olds in Canada worked part-time, versus 10 per cent in 1979.
On the full-time front, it may appear millennials have less job security, but they actually appear to change jobs about as frequently as baby boomers. On average, millennials stay at a full-time job 19 months, which compares with 21 months for baby boomers back in 1979. Millennials hold part-time jobs 17.5 months on average versus 15 months for baby boomers in 1979.
“These figures suggest that the path to establishing a career isn’t that much different for millennials. Notably, the unemployment rate for 20 to 24 year olds was 10.4 per cent in both 1979 and 2015,” Cooper says.
Canadian millennials have inherited a labour environment in many way better than that of their parents
The economist also points out millennials have turned to entrepreneurship, with the share of self-employed 15- to 24-year-olds doubling over the last two decades. The proportion of all start ups owned by someone under the age of 30 reached nine per cent in 2014.
Millennial women also are poised to benefit from a more level playing field as they begin to comprise a greater share of graduates with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees compared to previous generations. In science and technology, 59 per cent of degree holders are female. Nevertheless, in 2015 Canadian women still earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
Cooper also notes millennial family dynamics have changed, with only 31 per cent of the cohort married or living in common law patnerships in 2015, down from 44 per cent for baby boomers in 1970. The average age of a woman giving birth to her first child has increased by two years over the past three decades, which has helped shrink the average family size to 3.0 in 2016 from 3.3 in 1981.
While policy makers worry about the impact of high prices, millennials are actually buying more than predecessors because of low rates. Home ownership among 20- to 34-year-olds was 47 per cent in 2011 versus 45 per cent in 1981.
Finally, Cooper says millennials are the most ethnically diverse generation Canada has ever seen, adding that different perspectives of individuals from diverse backgrounds can encourage innovative thinking and provide broader networks for relationships.