Starting a family is last on Millennials’ list of ambitions, survey shows

A 29-year-old who can’t afford a house because she spent the down payment on cold brews and her avocado toast habit? Dig deeper. The Millennials are a generation of searchers and seekers, which often proves itself out in job-hopping, world-traveling, and other often-perplexing behaviors. Professional services network Deloitte aimed to decode the modern Millennials and uncover their attitudes about money, work, and trust in public institutions with their eighth annual Deloitte Millennial Survey 2019.

The report is based on 13,416 Millennials surveyed across 42 countries, plus responses from 3,009 Gen Z respondents from 10 countries. In a departure from previous reports, which interviewed only college-educated millennials, 31% of this year’s respondents did not have full-time employment, and 34% did not have a college degree.

Shifting priorities

It’s no surprise that Millennials have different priorities than those of their parents, or even Gen X. Financial constraints also pay a role. To that end, having children or starting a family ranks dead last on their list of ambitions:

  • 57% want to travel and see the world
  • 52% want to earn high salaries and/or attain wealth
  • 49% want to buy homes
  • 46% want to make positive impacts on their community or society
  • 39% want to have children/start a family

Low hopes for the economy and personal finance

Millennials have dismal hope for the economy – only 26% of respondents said they expected the economic situation in their countries to improve in the coming year. That’s the lowest number in the six years Deloitte has been tracking it; and before now the number has never been lower than 40%. For the past two years it’s tracked at 45%.

As for their own personal financial situations, just over half think their situations will worsen or stay the same. Just 43% see an improvement in their financials in the next year.

The world of work

Millennials aren’t staying stable in their jobs – 49% said they would, if they could – quit their current job in the next two years. (In Deloitte’s 2017 report, that number was 38%).

Of that number that said that they would leave in two years, a quarter of those reported having done just that – left a job in the last 24 months.

Here are the top reasons for leaving of those who plan to leave their jobs:

  • Unhappy with pay: 43%
  • Few opportunities to advance: 35%
  • Lack of learning and development opportunities: 28%
  • I don’t feel appreciated: 23%
  • Poor work-life balance/lack of flexibility: 22%
  • Boredom/unchallenging job: 21%
  • Dissatisfied with workplace culture: 15%

Still, 28% of Millennials said they expected to stay with their current employers for five or more years.

The changing workforce

Millennials were well aware of the challenges of the modern workforce.

With AI looming and gig work infiltrating every sector, 46% of Millennials said that the changing features of work could make it harder to find or change jobs.

Only one in five felt that they possessed all of the skills and knowledge the would need for this new, agile, high-tech world of work. A solid majority, 70%, said they had some of few of the skills required, but would need to acquire more to be a more attractive employee and candidate.

Millennials felt that businesses had the largest responsibility in preparing workers for this new reality (30%), followed by educational institutions (24%). Whether or not these institutions will do so is a matter or debate. Millennials may have to pick up these much-needed skills on their own.

One American Millennial, Laura Banks, told Deloitte, “We have less trust in employers because so many of our parents did lose their jobs, and they had been loyal to companies… We are either putting off big life moments and keeping money in our savings, or we’re saying, ‘You know what? It could fall apart again tomorrow. Let’s travel the world.”