A Statistical Look At Millennials In the Workplace

by Nina Paczka | Career Advice Contributor

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce — and they’re distinct from other generations of workers.

Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials comprise 35 percent of the U.S. workforce, and they’ll make up 75 percent by 2030. They’re more likely than other generations to have the newest technology and turn to the internet for answers. They’re much more racially diverse, and interested in a company’s mission rather than money compared to previous generations

And, for the first time in U.S. history, millennials rub elbows with four other generations at work:

  • The Silent Generation (born before 1946) – 2 percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) – 25 percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) – 33 percent of the U.S. workforce.
  • Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) – 5 percent of the U.S. workforce.

The following stats are designed to inform job seekers of the unique opportunities and challenges each generation faces in the workplace. We take a close look at what makes millennials different from other generations of workers and what they expect from work. Here’s what you need to know:

Americans are getting older

The number of people 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2060.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Between 2011 and 2029, about 3.8 million baby boomers are expected to turn 65 each year — that’s about 10,000 daily.

Source: Pew Research Center

…and staying in the workforce longer.

In 2019, 55 percent of workers expect to retire after age 65, up from 15 percent of such workers in a 1996 survey.

And while 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, only 5,900 leave the workforce daily.

Source: Pew Research Center

Millennials are now the largest cohort in the workplace.

In 2016, millennials surpassed Generation X to become the single largest generation in the U.S. labor force.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Roughly a third of Americans in the labor force (35 percent) are millennials, while Generation X makes up 33 percent.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

And Generation Z is closely behind millennials, as 42 percent of 17 to 23 year olds are already gainfully employed in either full- or part-time jobs, or as freelancers.

Source: McKinsey


Younger workers are more diverse.

By 2045, the United States is projected to become a “majority-minority” nation in which non-Hispanic whites of all ages will constitute less than 50 percent of the total population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Forty-four percent of millennials are people of color.

Source: Brookings Institute

In 2018, just under half (48 percent) of post-millennials were people of color.

Source: Pew Research Center

Millennials are known as “job-hoppers.”

Right now, they are changing jobs more than previous generations.

Non Millenial

Gallup data revealed that 21 percent of millennials reported changing jobs in 2016, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials.

Source: Gallup

But Gen X did the same thing at this stage in their careers.


In 2016, 63 percent of employed millennials reported that they had worked for their current employer for at least 13 months, and 22 percent for five years.

In 2000, 60 percent of Generation Xers reported the same tenure, and 21.8 percent for five years.

Source: Pew Research Center

Career development is very important to them.

Forty-five percent of millennials say a job that accelerates their professional or career development is “very important” to them, compared to 31 percent of Gen Xers and 18 percent of baby boomers.

Source: Pew Research Center

They are also far more likely to use mental health benefits.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults (46.6 million) live with a mental illness.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Who uses mental health benefits?

  • 59%

    of under 40 workers

  • 27%

    of workers over 40

Source: Jobvite

And, they value a good benefits package.

Ninety-six percent of millennials say they take benefits into account when applying for a job.

Source: Pentegra

Here are the benefits millennials ranked as most valuable:

Most Valuable Mob

Millennials aspire to work in tech

Top five employers attracting millennials:

  • Amazon
  • IBM
  • Oracle
  • Google
  • Apple
Soft Engg

Software engineer is the most desired job for millennials.

Source: Glassdoor Economic Research/CNBC

…though they don’t yet dominate those fields.

Of the 205,000 web developers in the United States, 37.56 percent are millennials.

Source: Smart Asset

Of the 1.5 million software developers, 33.04 percent are millennials.

Source: Smart Asset

They’re more likely than baby boomers to use technology for personal reasons at work


Forty-seven percent of Gen Zers admit to texting during meetings, compared to 30 percent of millennials and only 22 percent of baby boomers.

Source: Randstad U.S. and Future Workplace
Baby Boomers

Plus, millennials are more than twice as likely as baby boomers (49 percent versus 22 percent) to use technology for personal reasons during the workday. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Generation Z and 21 percent of Generation X do the same.

Source: Randstad U.S. and Future Workplace

… and they feel compelled to stay connected to work while outside the office.

Outside Hours

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Gen Zers and about one-half of millennials (52 percent) frequently or sometimes check work email or texts outside of office hours. Only 44 percent of Gen Xers and 38 percent of baby boomers do the same.

Source: Randstad U.S. and Future Workplace

Here are the top three reasons younger workers stay connected:

Stay Connected Mob

Source: Randstad U.S. and Future Workplace
Work Vacation

Truth is, a majority of managers (53 percent) expect employees to at least occasionally answer work email while on vacation.

Source: Randstad U.S. and Future Workplace

Overall, younger generations are dissatisfied with compensation and a lack of career advancement within companies

Here are the top reasons millennials plan to leave their current organizations in the next two years:

Dissatisfied Mob

… and are increasingly turning to freelancing.

Between 2014 and 2017, the freelance workforce grew three times faster than the U.S. workforce overall (8.1 percent versus. 2.6 percent).

Source: Upwork

Forty-seven percent of working millennials now say they freelance in some capacity.

Source: Upwork

Just don’t call it the “gig economy.”

Forty-nine percent of freelancers said they preferred the term “the freelance economy” over labels like “gig economy,” the “on-demand economy” or the “sharing economy.”

Source: Upwork

They know freelancing isn’t perfect

Top three negatives:

  • 39%

    Unreliable/unpredictable income

  • 30%

    Irregular/unpredictable hours

  • 27%

    Hard to make plans/plan for the future

… but the pros outweigh the cons.

Top three attractions:

  • 58%

    To earn more money/increase income

  • 41%

    To work the hours they want

  • 37%

    To achieve better work/life balance

Understanding how millennials fit into the workplace equation can give you the edge in advancing your career.

Here are three important takeaways:

  • Millennials are very tech-oriented. They use technology both in and outside the office, and they aspire to work at major tech companies. Their interest in tech will be reflected in everything from preferred communication style to work ethic.
  • Millennials are just as willing as Gen X to stay on their career path — as long as it’s offering them plenty of opportunity.
  • Younger generations are more likely to freelance. To attract top talent, companies may need to offer more schedule flexibility so millennials and Generation Z have free time to pursue their passions and make a little extra money.

If you’re serious about your career, keep reading our 2020 employment and career stats series, including:

  • The key to writing a job-winning resume. The one-size-fits-all resume is a myth, and this stats guide ensures yours won’t get dismissed at first sight.
  • Why surveys finding decades’-high job satisfaction fail to tell the whole story. The truth is more complicated, with low worker engagement and nearly half of employees unhappy with their pay.

The story behind the record-low unemployment numbers. Job seekers say it’s easier than ever to find good work — so easy, they’re even ghosting companies.

About the Author

Nina Paczka

About the Author

Nina Paczka

Career Advice Contributor

Nina Pączka is a career advisor and job search expert. Her professional advice, insight, and guidance help people find a satisfying job and pursue a career. Nina’s mission is to support job seekers in their path leading to finding a perfect job.

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