Fewer Millennials in Management Roles

Younger workers generally expect to put in a few years before ascending to management roles. For Gen Y, however, it’s been a long wait.


(Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos/Flickr)

For the purposes of our Generations at Work data package, we’ve defined Gen Y as folks who were born between 1982-2002. That means that the oldest Gen Y workers are now 31 years old — old enough, in other words, to have put in the time and gained the experience and perspective to make them good managers.

However, not only are Gen Yers not catching up with Gen X and Baby Boomers in terms of management roles, they’re actually worse off this year than they were the year before. Almost 20 percent of Gen Xers are managers; 21 percent of Baby Boomers are managers. Only 12 percent of Gen Y held management roles in 2013, and that’s down from 15 percent last year.

We attribute this to a few things:

1. Delayed entry into the workforce due to the economy.

Nearly half of all recent college graduates were unemployed or underemployed in 2012. As a result, younger workers are getting a late start on their careers, and getting promoted to management roles later — or not at all.

2. Minimum wage or low-skilled jobs.

Gen Y’s underemployment is forcing them to take low-paying, low-skilled jobs in order to survive. Some of these jobs won’t offer management tracks, and others are outside of Gen Y workers’ fields of study.

3. Baby Boomers delaying retirement.

Also because of the economy, Baby Boomers aren’t able or willing to retire as early as they once might have. This cuts down on the number of available management roles for Gen X and Gen Y.

The bottom line is that the post-recession economy has put the squeeze on all workers, and Gen Y, as the last generation to enter the workforce, is feeling the lack of opportunity most keenly.

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