A Portrait of 'Post-Millenials'

Who are the ‘post-Millenials’?

Those born between 1997 to 2012 who make up today’s 6- to 21-year-olds, often referred to as the Generation Zs. According to Nielsen, as of last year, Gen-Z’s already made up approximately 26% of the total population.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data compares the characteristics of the post-Millennials in 2018 with earlier generations at the same age range (ages 6 to 21). In comparing snapshots of this age group across different generations, the report finds that the “post-Millennial” generation is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation. Additionally, they had the largest percentage of high school-graduates and are more likely to be enrolled in college, which contributes to them being slower (as compared to prior generations) to enter the labor force as full-time workers.

The post-Millennial generation is set to be the most racially and ethnically diverse: a bare majority (52%) of post-Millennials are non-Hispanic white, as compared to 80% of early boomers at the same ages. The most significant change has been a rise in the share of Hispanics; one-in-four are Hispanic, compared to the previous generations where only 18% of Millennials were made up of Hispanics, and only 4% of Early Boomers. Of the other racial groups, most maintained similar shares of the total population, with a rise from 1% to 4% for those who identified as ‘Other’. These mainly consisted of youth of two or more races.
The racial and ethnic diversity of the post-Millennial generation is only expected to increase, with the Census Bureau projecting that the post-Millennial generation will become majority non-white in 2026 when accounting for migrant flows.

Still, today’s Post-Millennials, compared to Millennials, are slightly less likely to be foreign born. In 2002, foreign-born immigrants made up 5.0 million of the 65.3 Millennials. In comparison, only about 4.4 million of the 66.5 million post-Millennials are foreign-born immigrants. Focusing on the Hispanic group, more than half of post-Millennial Hispanics are likely to have been U.S. born with immigrant parents, as compared to only 43% of Millennial Hispanics.

On education, post-Millennials are on track to become the most-educated generation. As of 2017, 80% of post-millennials had completed high school, a modest improvement as compared to Millennials and Gen Xers. The largest increase in high school completion came from post-Millennial Hispanic youth; where 60% of Hispanic Millennials had completed high school as 18-to 20-year-olds, 76% of Hispanic post-Millennials had completed high school by this age. High-school completion improved for other racial minorities too: a larger percentage of Black and Asian post-Millennials completed high school as compared to prior generations.

Beyond K-12 education, post-Millennials are also more likely than earlier generations to be pursuing college. In 2017, post-Millennials had the highest percentage enrolled in college between ages 18-to 20-years old. 59% of post-Millennials who had completed high school were enrolled in college, as compared to 53% and 44% of Millennials and Gen Xers respectively at the same ages. Some of the increase stems from large gains in college enrolment for Hispanic youth. More than half of Hispanic youth were pursuing a college degree (55%), as compared to 34% of Hispanic Millennials when they were 18-to-20 years old. Black and Asian post-Millennials are also more likely to be enrolled in college than their prior generations.

Overall, this suggests that racial and ethnic gaps in education were reduced in the post-Millennials generation.

On the other hand, post-Millennials are slower to enter the labor force than prior generations, and when they do, they have less experience in the labor market than prior generations. This is in part because they are more likely to be in school. Whereas almost half the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1968  - 1985) were employed by the time they were 15- to 17-year-olds, only approximately 20% of post-Millennials aged 15 to 17 were employed the previous year. Of those who were employed, post-Millennial workers were less likely to be employed full-time than prior generations. In 2018, only 15% of 15- to 17-year-old workers worked full-time, down sharply from the 26% of 15- to 17-year-old workers in 1968 who worked full-time.

Why do these trends matter?

Rapidly changing American demographics will have a profound impact on elections, policy, economic opportunity, as well as the future of work. "How we deal with this racially diverse generation ... will say a lot about how successful we will be as a nation," says William Frey. Studies have observed generational gaps in views on different issues such as government policy, immigration, and same-sex marriage, which in turn reflect in their voting preferences. Some demographers have also seen parallels between the post-Millennials and the Silent Generation (the cohorts born between 1928 - 1945 who lived through the Great Depression and WWII as adults) regarding attitudes towards work, such as a craving for financial security.

Further reading:

Eunice Yau


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