A generation delayed but not denied

February 22, 2012

Once more Boomers can afford to retire, the work force will be filled with highly educated Millennials on the rise.

Millennials have a hard time finding a silver lining in this economy, with so many of them highly educated, carrying high debt for their degrees, and unemployed or underemployed. Millions have boomeranged home to live with mom and dad because it’s the only place they can afford.

Meanwhile, more attempt to retrofit their backgrounds toward new career directions, with college and university doors swung open to welcome them and their tuition dollars. The New York Times reports it is mostly women in this age group who’ve repopulated lecture halls rather than young men who tend to accept their “breadwinner roles” and limited job options today:  “In the last two years, the number of women ages 18 to 24 in school rose by 130,000, compared with a 53,000 for young men.”

These circumstances seem cruel now. Yet The Lempert Report sees a potentially revamped work force within five years (that does seem like a long time) that will benefit the best prepared of this younger generation.  Here’s why:

Boomers have delayed their retirement to replenish their nest eggs, but will likely step aside within a handful of years. This should open new jobs at pay rates that seem fair to both employers (less than the mature workers made) and the educated workers on the rise. It could be payoff time for people who’ve re-schooled to fit into fields targeted for growth such as healthcare. Few, if any, extended-students today are taken on tuition debt just to feel productive during a slow economy - they are retooling to be competitive in fields targeted for growth. 

So there’s not much gleam now. But we believe today’s hard knocks will combine with the added learned skills to make today’s Millennials a particularly resilient generation leading the nation ahead before long.