Gen Z Shaping Up To Be America’s Most Diverse, Educated Generation

Millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research—have received much of marketers’ focus as a generation. But understanding the cohort of Americans that follow them, Generation Z, the oldest of whom are now past 21, is becoming a pressing priority worthy of marketing professionals’ attention.

Analyzing Census Bureau data, Pew Research finds that members of Generation Z are already the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation, with 48 percent of six- to 21-year-olds classifying as racial or ethnic minorities. Looking at ethnic and racial shifts, Pew’s research found that 52 percent of Gen Z are non-Hispanic whites, while 25 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are African American and four percent are Asian. The remaining four percent of Gen Z are primarily youth of two or more races. In comparison, Millennials are 61 percent non-Hispanic whites, 18 percent Hispanic, 15 percent African American and four percent Asian.

While most of Gen Z are still in K-12 education, the oldest members are enrolling in college at much higher rates than Millennials and Generation X at that age—59 percent vs. 53 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

Pew notes that on average, the parents of Gen Z are more educated than those of Millennials and previous generations, which likely contributes to the relative affluence in which they were raised and their higher educational attainment. The high school dropout rate is significantly lower for Gen Z than that of Millennials in 2002, when they were of a similar age. As of 2017, 80 percent of Gen Z members aged 18 to 20 had finished high school, compared to 76 percent of Millennials and 78 percent of Gen Xers at the same ages.

Gen Z members are entering adulthood with less work experience, which Pew says could potentially be due to their higher educational attainment. Data shows that 19 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds report working in the prior calendar year, compared with 30 percent of Millennials when they were that age. Similarly, 58 percent of 18- to 21-year-old Gen Z’s report working in the past year, compared to 72 percent of Millennials of the same ages in 2002 and 80 percent of 18- to 21-year-old Baby Boomers in 1968.

For more on Pew Research’s findings, click here.

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