Google Gen Y
Go ahead. Google “Gen Y.” As of the born-on date for this blog, roughly early March 2009, the highest-ranked news pieces are three to four years old. It’s as if we were defined a few years ago, and dismissed as youngsters that needed to “pay dues” or get schooled in the “real world” before being reconsidered.
Understandable. After all, you have to earn respect and trust, and that translates into the big picture as much as it does to individuals and isolated cases. So let’s first take a look at how Gen Y is defined and understood. With the context of a national economic crisis looming, it’s more important than ever to “know thyself,” so all of Gen Y can move forward: those jobless, those employed, and those navigating every tenuous situation in between.
Let’s start with a few definitions.
Generation Y is a cohort which consists of those people born after the Generation X cohort. Its name is controversial and is synonymous with several alternative names including The Net Generation, Millennials, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration. Generation Y consists primarily of the offspring of the Generation Jones and Baby Boomers cohorts.
As a generation is defined not by formal process but rather by demographers, the media, popular culture, market researchers and members of the generation itself, there is no precise consensus as to which birth years constitute any generation. Although different groups and individuals consider different ranges of years as constituting Generation Y, those ranges of years are almost always within the outer bounds of 1976 as the earliest possible year and 2001 as the latest. The ongoing debate is in part due to the lack of a marquee event(s), like the boom in births after the end of World War II for the “Baby Boomer” generation.
If the years 1977-2000 are used – as is common in market research – then the size of Generation Y in the United States is approximately 76 million.
From USA Today (2005):
There is no consensus over the exact birth dates that define Gen Y, also known by some as echo boomers and millennials. But the broadest definition generally includes the more than 70 million Americans born 1977 to 2002. Generation X was born roughly 1965 to 1976.
Narrower definitions put Gen Yers as those ages 16 to 27, born from 1978 to 1989. This narrower view is based on the thinking that as the pace of change in society accelerates, the time frame of a generation gets shorter.
From BusinessWeek (1999):
Born during a baby bulge that demographers locate between 1979 and 1994, they are as young as five and as old as 20, with the largest slice still a decade away from adolescence. And at 60 million strong, more than three times the size of Generation X, they’re the biggest thing to hit the American scene since the 72 million baby boomers. Still too young to have forged a name for themselves, they go by a host of taglines: Generation Y, Echo Boomers, or Millennium Generation.