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The dominance of millennial workers -- the generation born from the early 1980s to the late 1990s -- is fast emerging in the United States, according to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
"Millennials are now 80 million strong. They pushed folks like me, the baby boomers, off the stage in terms of the percentage of the workforce. They’ll be 75 percent of the workforce in the next 10 years," Warner said during a June 4 interview on CNBC.
Warner repeated the figure in a speech the same day to the New America Foundation in Washington. In both instances, he used it to illustrate what he said is a need to address the economic security of millennials who are coming of age in a "gig economy" where they earn a living doing short term projects rather than relying on a steady job with retirement benefits.
We wondered whether Warner’s figure is correct.
Rachel Cohen, the senator’s spokeswoman, sent us links to articles in The Washington Post, National Journal, Wired and other publications that used the 75 percent statistic. A quick Google search of our own found many other citations. But there were problems: None of the materials identified the original source of the figures and we couldn’t find it on our own.
On the other hand, we came across an article last November in The Wall Street Journal that crunched projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found the 75 the percent claim is a sham.
We came to the same conclusion after examining the BLS data. The Pew Research Center defines millennials as those who are now aged 18-34.
Using that age definition for millennials means the generation, in 2025, will be 28 to 44 years old. The BLS projects that 10 years from now, there will be 73.9 million people aged 25-44 in the U.S. workforce. They’ll make up 44 percent of a total labor force of 168.7 million.
The Journal noted in its analysis that even if younger people in the generation after millennials -- unofficially dubbed generation z -- are included, the proportion still wouldn’t hit the three-quarters mark. The millennials and generation z workers would comprise 56 percent of the workforce in 2025.
That said, there’s no doubt that the millennials are coming of age. Pew recently reported that during the first three months of this year, they became the largest group in the labor force, with 53.5 million workers, or 34 percent. Generation X has 52.7 million workers, also 34 percent, and 44.6 million baby boomers were working, or 29 percent of the workforce.
Warner says millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce a decade from now. Projections show that they’re on track to make up about 44 percent of the workforce in 10 years.
Clearly, the millennials are rising, but nowhere near the pace Warner describes. We rate his statement Mostly False.
Senator Mark Warner, "Warner address challenges and opportunities of the growing ‘gig economy,’" June 4, 2015.
CNBC transcript, "Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is interviewed on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box,’" regarding the economy, June 4, 2015.
Emails from Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman for Sen. Mark Warner, June 9, 2015.
Sen. Mark Warner’s speech at the New America Foundation, June 4, 2015.
Email from Mitra Toossi, economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 12, 2015.
Email from Stacey Flores, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 10, 2015.
Interview with Richard Fry, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, June 11, 2015.
Interview with Morely Winograd, senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School Center on Communication and Leadership, June 10, 2015.
The Wall Street Journal, "How to tell if a ‘fact’ about millennials isn’t actually a fact," Nov. 27, 2014.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, table 3.4, accessed June 11, 2015.
Pew Research Center, "Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in the labor force," May 11, 2015.
Pew Research Center, "This year, Millennials will overtake baby boomers," Jan. 16, 2015.
The Washington Post, "How those spoiled millennials will make the workplace better for everyone," Aug. 16, 2012.
National Journal, "How millennials will change the world of work," May 29, 2014.
Wired, "The rise of the millennial workforce," August 2013.
Brookings Institution, "How millennials could upend Wall Street and corporate america," May 2014.
Email from Kelly Carter, external communications, Hartford Financial Services Group, June 12, 2015.
Deloitte, "Big Demands and high expectations: The Deloitte Millennial Survey," January, 2014.
Forbes, "Why you can’t ignore Millennials," Sept. 4, 2013.
Hartford Business Journal, "Millennials to take over by 2025," Aug. 18, 2014.
Dale Carnegie Training, "Millennials in the workplace," April 2015.
The Hartford, "Tomorrow’s leaders in the workplace," October, 2013.
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