They are unemployed as never before, but they have not given up hope.
A British newspaper has a cogent analysis of the attitude of this generation. It would be best to see some scientific polling to verify this, but the overall assessment seems accurate. Adam Lent writes as follows.
A recent poll of Americans aged 18 to 34, for example, found that more than half would like to start their own firm or had already done so. A separate survey found that 35 per cent of people under 30 in employment had started their own business on the side. While a study of four million Facebook profiles for people aged between 18 and 29 concluded that the pages displayed an “unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit”.
This is very good news. Economic growth comes from a combination of entreprenership and capital, but the former is far more important. Old rich people have capital. They need visionary young people to invest in.
It’s not just in the USA. I’s in Europe, too.
The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), working with the National Centre for Social Research, have tried to find out whether this was a new phenomenon or not by comparing large-scale surveys over the last decade-and-a-half in the UK. We discovered that the desire to start your own business has risen considerably amongst all age groups. However, the 20 to 29 age group in both 1998 and 2010 was the keenest to start a business. But it is today’s twenty-somethings who are taking entrepreneurial ambition to new heights with close to one third now wanting to launch their own firm.
I hope the following is correct. I think it is.
I think there is something far deeper happening to explain the rise of Generation Enterprise. We know from numerous surveys that millennials are far more tapped into the internet and make much wider use of the networks it provides. This explains a lot because the interactive web is transforming the way business is done in all sorts of ways but in particular it is making it far easier to set up and run a business.
Facebook is a major network. It turned a teenager into a multi-billionaire. The word get out!
Marketing no longer requires expensive advertising but can be done through a skilful use of peer-to-peer online networks, which now allow access to global markets. If you are selling intellectual content then its distribution is now immediate and cheap. If you are selling something that cannot be squeezed down a telephone line then a firm like Amazon or Ebay has established the technological infrastructure to allow you to arrange distribution painlessly and cheaply.
The Internet is fostering this new attitude. “With their much closer engagement to the internet, it is hardly surprising that younger people now see setting up a business as something far more natural and low risk than previous generations.”
This recession/slow recovery is not the end of the world. The optimism of the millennials is still unfazed.