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The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 Optimism, trust reach troubling low levels

Deloitte research reveals a “generation disrupted.” Growing up in a world of accelerated transformation leaves millennials and Gen Zs feeling unsettled about the future.

Executive summary

Despite current global economic growth, expansion and opportunity, millennials and Generation Z are expressing uneasiness and pessimism—about their careers, their lives and the world around them, according to Deloitte’s eighth annual Millennial Survey. In the past two years especially, we’ve seen steep declines in respondents’ views on the economy, their countries’ social/political situations, and institutions like government, the media and business. Organizations that can make the future brighter for millennials and Gen Zs stand to have the brightest futures themselves.

Key takeaways

Optimism and trust are becoming scarce

This year, we saw a palpable deterioration of optimism and a wide variety of both macroeconomic and day-to-day anxieties weighing on millennials’ minds. They have bleak expectations for the economy—the lowest we have experienced since we began asking this question six years ago. Income inequality and the lack of social mobility were likely factors driving economic pessimism, highlighting the negative impact of an uncertain, unequal environment.

Trust in traditional media also is notably low among millennials and Gen Zs as political conversations over the last year have likely contributed to increased skepticism. And consistent with past surveys, millennials expressed low opinions of political and religious leaders—signaling something must change in order to win over this key cohort.

Millennials remain skeptical of business’s motives

Millennials’ opinions about business continue to diminish, in part due to views that businesses focus solely on their own agendas rather than considering the consequences for society. Fifty-five percent said business has a positive impact on society, down from 61 percent in 2018. More millennials than ever—49 percent—would, if they had a choice, quit their current jobs in the next two years.

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In addition, millennials and Gen Zs, in general, will patronize and support companies that align with their values. Younger generations are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting businesses that make a positive impact on society. Many say they will not hesitate to lessen or end a consumer relationship when they disagree with a company’s business practices, values or political leanings.

Millennials and Gen Zs value experiences

The youngest generations are no less ambitious than their predecessors; more than half want to earn high salaries and be wealthy. But their priorities have shifted. Travel and seeing the world was at the top of millennials’ list of aspirations (57 percent), while slightly fewer than half said they wanted to own a home (49 percent). They also were more attracted to making a positive impact in their communities or society at large (46 percent) than in having children and starting families (39 percent).

Generally, millennials think their ambitions are achievable. But for many, their dreams have been delayed by financial or other constraints.

They have a love/hate relationship with technology

Younger generations embrace technology and understand its benefits; 71 percent of millennials feel positive about their personal use of digital devices and social media. But more than half said, on balance, that social media does more harm than good. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of millennials said they would be physically healthier if they reduced the time spent on social media, and six in 10 said it would make them happier people.

Cybersecurity concerns also loom large. Only 14 percent of millennials strongly agree that the benefits of technology outweigh the risks associated with sharing personal data, 79 percent are concerned they’ll be victims of online fraud, and a quarter of millennials have curtailed consumer relationships because of companies’ inability to protect data.

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