Are Millennials the Next Bubble to Burst?
By John Harline
There has been so much talk lately of bubbles bursting, and I don’t mean the soapy kind. Investors seem to be looking over their shoulders constantly, hoping the proverbial arrow is not flying toward the asset bubbles that have swelled and pulled the valuation of their portfolios into a different stratosphere for the last six years.
However, asset bubbles aside, there seems to be another type of bubble burgeoning in size and scale. It has taken a human form and assumed similar characteristics. Often described as self-absorbed, entitled and spoiled, the significance of this expanding bubble is enormous, as it represents the hope of our future. This is not a bubble defined by an asset, currency or commodity. It is a far greater force, and one that leads directly to a path of technological freedom. This bubble of wonder possesses a spirited mind, yet is paralyzed by a level of intelligence, which only its kind can comprehend. This bubble lives and breathes in the largest population since the Baby Boomers. Its impact resonates boldly across our cultural canvas, although its presence penetrates with few words. Perceived to be the world’s first “Generational Bubble,” this is the Millennial Generation.
But, is all the criticism fair? This generation has undoubtedly lead the “technological” charge, which in recent years has placed even the newest of emerging economies on par with those only found in the world of the Jetsons. Some have even compared Millennials to the last great generation, the Baby Boomers, suggesting that Millennials will likely be the greatest generation of all.
The mystique of the Millennial is fascinating to dissect. Born roughly between 1980 and 2000, they are considered to be motivated, goal-oriented, ambitious and driven. They have been raised by parents who are passionate about getting involved in the lives of their children and who are often called “helicopter parents” because they “hover” over the lives of their sons and daughters from preschool to college. Millennials are the most educated of any generation and are described as highly self-confident. Yet, they are also the generation most plagued with student loans, which take up a chunk of the post-graduate Millennial’s income. As a result, there has been a surge in the number of Millennials choosing to live at home with their parents. With less to spend, Millennials are also putting off long-term commitments like marriage and home ownership.
As is abundantly clear, Millennials have grown up in a time of rapid change, giving them a set of priorities and expectations sharply different from previous generations. The online-world and, in large part, social media, have given Millennials a unique platform by which to reach the world.
As progress continues, so does the expansion of the potential millennial bubble. In 2015, Millennials have emerged as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Likewise, as more Millennials transition into adulthood, the workplace will become a more diverse landscape. There will be a marked shift in how they work, and the official role Millennials will play in the business world as time passes. As such, Millennials will offer unique skills that businesses will rely upon to stay innovative and competitive. Not only tech-savvy and keen to adaptability, Millennials are in the perfect position to reinvent what it means to be successful in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world.