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Generations born since 1981 have overtaken boomers, making up a majority of the U.S. population

Elderly man sitting in a diner. (PxHere/Released)

The baby boom generation, long considered the largest, has been edged out by millennials and Gen Zers, giving the latter two groups a combined population majority for the first time, a new analysis of summertime census figures has revealed.

“A close examination of detailed age data released by the Census Bureau last month reveals a startling fact: More than half of the nation’s total population are now members of the millennial generation or younger,” wrote William Frey last week in an analysis for the institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

The new data, he said, show that there were 166 million people among the millennial, Gen Z and younger generations combined as of July 2019. That’s 50.7% of the U.S. population, and more than the 162 million Americans who are members of the Gen X, baby boomer and older cohorts combined, he wrote.

“To many Americans – especially baby boomers themselves – this news may come as a shock,” Frey wrote, fraught as the term “millennial” has been in recent years with negative connotations “in terms of habits, ideology, and politics.”

Two-fifths of millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996 – and Gen Zers, who came into being after 1996, are Black and Brown, the Brookings analysis said. Gen Xers were born in the late 1960s and 1970s, according to the Associated Press, while boomers are typically defined as being born between the end of World War II and 1964.

“Now, the oldest millennial is 39, and with their numbers exceeding those of baby boomers, the millennial generation is poised to take over influential roles in business and government,” wrote Frey, a senior fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program.

“Millennials and their juniors (Gen Z and younger) are more racially diverse than those that preceded them, with nearly half identifying as a racial or ethnic minority,” Frey wrote. “Social, economic, and political fissures between millennials and older, whiter generations are well known; there is no question that in his screeds against illegal immigrants, voter fraud, political correctness, and the like, President Trump has preyed on the fears of older whites about the nation’s changing racial demography — a strategy he continues to follow.”

This means that Trump’s strategy could backfire as those younger generations are hit by the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on both mental and economic well-being, plus the effects of the protests against systemic racism stemming from the murder of George Floyd.

They “are bearing the brunt of outsized job losses, evictions, and — among Gen Z — disruptions in education,” Frey wrote. “For older millennials, this is the second stage of a double economic whammy, as many of them never fully recovered from the 2007 to 2009 Great Recession. As millennials and younger generations find themselves at the center of the pandemic’s economic storm, they are poised to fight for a bigger say in how the nation recovers.”

Add to that the fact that nearly two-fifths of millennials and Gen Z are Black and Brown, and these issues cut deeply at a personal level.

“The broad coalition of all races — including whites — in this movement suggests a joining of disparate interests toward making fundamental changes in racial justice,” Frey wrote.

While boomers currently make up the largest share of the electorate, with 28.9%, the younger generations combined may very well make up a majority of eligible voters by 2030, The Hill reported.

Currently millennials account for 27% of all eligible voters, while members of Gen X make up 24.8%, and Gen Z’s nascent voters are 20.3% of the population but just 10.1% of the electorate, The Hill said.

Already, nonwhites comprise more than half of millennial and Gen Z voters in nine states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas, Frey noted, wondering, “Can the new activism among millennials and Gen Z translate into the political support necessary to elect progressive and Democratic candidates in November?”


© 2020 New York Daily News