2 3 From the Editor Al Krulick Editor-in-Chief H Editor-in-Chief Al Krulick Associate Editor Lorie Steiner Director of Advertising Lauren Blackwell Vice President of Business Development Erin O’Donoghue Research Directors Paul Payne Rohan Stewart Brendan McElroy Josh Conklin Digital Strategist Scott Mosquera Creative Director Dana Long Vice President of Production Aimy McGrew Vice President of Publishing Andre Barefield CGO Alexander Wynne-Jones COO Brian Andersen Executive Publisher / CEO Marcus VandenBrink USA Canada Caribbean Oceania Email for all inquiries: email@example.com WWW.BUSINESSVIEWMAGAZINE.COM 12559 New Brittany Blvd Fort Myers, 33907 239.220.5554 CONTACT US Here come the Millennials.Or maybe not. An old article in the Atlantic Monthlymagazine has resurfaced recently and has been causing a bit of a kerfuffle.It’s titled “The Cheapest Generation–WhyMillennials aren’t buying cars or houses,and what that means for the economy.”Naturally,other old articles and blogs have likewise been resurrected in a lively,digital rebuttal–not of the basic facts that the Atlantic’s authors laid out,but rather of the use of the term “cheapest,”suggesting that the epithet applied to an entire generation was a “cheap shot,”at best. The premise of the Atlantic piece is that the Millennials are fomenting a profound shift in the American economy because they are not buying new cars and suburban houses at a pace that every generation before them has done since the end of WorldWar II.In fact,the authors suggest that for the last 70 years,car and home sales have powered the U.S.economy and propelled its recoveries after a recession.But no more. But,say the critics of the article,it’s not because they’re cheap–it’s because they’re broke.“Cheap is when you have money and refuse to spend it; frugal is when you don’t spend money you don’t have.We are frugal because we’re broke,”opined one author.“We have nothing,other than a moun- tain of debt and maybe a smart phone.” Another writer repudiated,“It’s awfully hard to buy a house or a car when any of the following apply: You are in student debt up to your eyeballs; you can’t find a job; when you do find a job,that job is insecure,low-wage,with few to no bene- fits.”Then some statistics: “Millennials have the highest unemployment rate of any generation. They have more student loan debt than Gen Xers and Boomers did at their age.More Millennials live in poverty than previous generations did at the same stage of life.Theymake up 61 percent of Americansmakingminimumwage.” It’s been seven years since theAtlantic article first appeared,and the economyhas clearlyimproved –even for theMillennials.But it’s unlikelythat their aversion to car and home buyingwill fade anytime soon,as it is due to other factors besides a lackof money–manysimplyhave a lackof interest. Having a car is neither everyMillennial’s need nor their desire.That’s what Zip Car and Uber are for. You don’t have to have your own car when you can share both car riding as well as the cars,themselves. And buying a home in the suburbs,wheremany of them livedwith their parents when theywere younger,is not held in the same high regard by the daughters and sons.They’vewitnessed how the“AmericanDream”went sour during the Great Recession,and theyare tilting the balance in favor of renting–again,sometimes bynecessity,but just as often,bydesign. The fact is that Millennials tend to prefer a lifestyle that ismore urban-andmore urbane-than their parents’,andwant to live inwalkable,bikeable neighborhoods with a lot of amenities in close proximity.Theydon’t believe that theyneed the expense of a car if theycan get where theyneed to be byother modes of transport,and even thosewho do have themeans to afford a down payment on a home,have seen howquicklyit can all go underwa- ter when the economyturns particularlysoggy. So,there’s no going back to the days when cars and houses would underwrite the American economy.We’re in a brave newworld,and there has definitely been a shift–both by necessity and by choice.But all is not lost.Notwithstanding their unfortunate use of the word “cheapest,”the Atlantic authors actually ended their piece on an optimistic note,championing the notion that the shift awayfrom traditional suburbs toward denser, “urban-light”living could havemajor econom- ic-growth implications on its own. “Research shows that doubling a community’s population densitytends to increase productivity byanywhere between 6 percent and 28 percent,” theywrote.“Economists have found that more than half of the variation in output per worker across U.S. states can be explained bydensity.Our wealth,after all,is determined not onlybyour own skills and talents,but byour abilityto access the ideas of those around us; there’s a lot to be gained byincreasing the odds that smart peoplemight bump against each other.Ultimately,if theMillennial generation pushes our societytowardmore sharing and closer living,it maydomore than simplychangeAmerica’s consumption culture; it mayputAmerica on firmer economic footing for decades to come.” So,theMillennials are coming–readyor not.