Planning for the Millennial Generation


On June 13, I attended the USC-SCAG 27th Annual Demographic Workshop as part of my internship at the Southern California Association of Governments. More than 100 planners, policymakers, and academic researchers attended to discuss how we can better plan and adjust policy to the urban preferences of rising Millennials. If you're familiar with any of these characteristics, you might be a Millennial yourself:

- Born 1980 to 1999 (ages 20 - 34)

- Most educated generation

- Despite being highly educated, we have a hard time finding full-time, stable jobs

- Preference to live near cities

- More conscious about social issues such as global warming

- More likely to delay marriage and kids

- More likely to live with their parents

- Less likely to own a car until later in life (preference to use public transit and technology like Uber)

As each presenter ran down the basic facts, my coworkers and I kept repeating, "me, me, me, that's me...." Most of my fellow interns fall into this generation, ranging from 22 (me) to 34, and are still struggling to find a full-time job; we're scrapping by with internships and entry-level positions. Furthermore, many of the interns also have Master's degrees, yet still live with their parents. If you're reading this, whether you're a parent of a Millennial or a Millennial yourself, there is no reason to be too self-critical or anxious. These characteristics are common and denote a larger demographic and economic issue.

Currently, there is competition faced by 25 year-olds fighting for housing and entry-level jobs. Because of the Recession, there aren't many entry level jobs, and the older generation is bottling up the more advanced positions. Furthermore, because of the high-priced housing market, would-be home buyers become renters. The regional housing shortage causes prices and rents to escalate, leading buyers/renters with more money to compete with those with less money. In turn, more young adults living with parents and lower income families are forced to move away. In other words, due to a peak in Millennial growth (4.2 million births in 1990) in combination with the recent recession, Millennials are slowed down, back up into parents' homes, and backed up in certain areas. The economic and housing situation also explains some other characteristics such as delaying getting married and having kids.

One of the most emphasized policy recommendations was to increase housing supply to match the current housing demand. Since, Millennials prefer living in walkable areas close to services, shopping and transit, future policymakers should address these preferences and accommodate transit-oriented neighborhoods. At the same time, they must also tackle the affordability issue.

"The larger Millennial cohorts could have created a more competitive environment for entry-level jobs even in a strong economy, but in the Great Recession, the opportunities were limited" (Myers). Despite these disheartening statistics, the opportunities are finally beginning to grow, and housing opportunities are also beginning to resume. In other words, there's hope for us. For those in my generation reading this, I'm living at home and am struggling to get even an entry-level position. However, I'm hopeful for my future and am excited for what I can do and what’s to come.

Source: Dowell Myers (speaker), Peak Millennials and the Rental Crisis, USC Price School of Public Policy.