Millennials are the most studied generation of all time. But somehow we also stand to be the most misunderstood.
Some confusion stems from lazy data interpretation. Other confusion persists out of prejudice, despite contradicting evidence. Here are six prevailing millennial myths I’d like to correct:
1. We can’t live without our parents.
We’re lazy, we’re entitled and—the most offensive allegation of all—we’re still children. After all, 36% of us live with our parents, according to Pew Research Center.
It’s true that millennials are living at home longer than other generations have previously. But it’s not because we won’t grow up. It’s because we’re going to college.
Only 25% of 25-29 year olds live with their parents, while just 13% of 30-34 year olds live with their parents. By contrast, 56% of 18-25 year olds still live at home. Why? Because the Census calls college dormitories living at home. College students are consequently much more likely to “live at home” than those at the same age not in college—66% versus 50%.
College enrollment rates are currently the highest they’ve ever been. As they continue to rise, so will the percentage of millennials “living with their parents”. Fortunately, as more young people go to college, fewer will actually be living with their parents. College graduates are the least likely of any millennials to live with their parents.
2. We’re unemployed.
Unemployment rates are similarly skewed. The millennial unemployment rate is 12.8%, more than twice the national average. But this number includes 18-24 year olds—39% of which are in college. If you remove this age group, millennial unemployment is on par with other generations. The Bureau of Labor statistics reports that the unemployment rate for 25-35 year olds is 5.2%. The nation’s average is 4.9%.
Thus, though fewer 18-24 year olds are employed than ever before, this is probably because more of us are in school full-time.
3. We’re lazy.
In a viral response to a Yelp employee’s letter to her CEO, writer Stefanie Williams summed a common attitude about our generation: “You sit on your ass looking for cushy jobs you are not entitled to while you complain about the establishment, probably from a nice laptop.” The problem, claims Williams, is “You expected to get what you thought you deserved rather than expected to work for what you had to earn.”
Some millennials, like members of any generation, are lazy. But research shows that most of us aren’t. For instance, a survey by Ernst & Young’s Global Generation Research found that 47% of millennials in management positions have begun working more hours in the last five years, compared with only 38% of Generation X and 28% of Baby Boomers. According to research by Bentley University, more than half of millennials are willing to work long hours and weekends to achieve career success. Another survey found that one third of millennials reported working every day of their vacations.
5. We’re having rampant sex and won’t marry.
Contrary to popular credo, millennials aren’t having more sex than other generations. The Journal of Sex Research reports that only 31.9% of college students from 1988-1996 reported having more than one sexual partner in the past year—compared to a nearly-identical 31.6% of today’s students between 2002-2010. Another study found that millennials have fewer sexual partners than any other generation since our grandparents, who at the same age averaged just two partners each.
And, while it’s true that millennials are getting married later than previous generations, we still value marriage. According to Pew’s data, 61% of millennials who have never married would like to someday—a number that hasn’t changed since the 1970s.
5. We’re “the most entrepreneurial generation ever”.
The Internet may have made entrepreneurship more visible and trendy, but new research shows it’s not more common. In fact, a recent analysis of Federal Reserve data suggests that entrepreneurship among young people is at a 25-year low.
Contrary to the image of millennials as fearless, authority-bashing startup founders, many millennials reveal they’re nervous or feel unequipped to start their own business. A survey by Wakefield Research for MOO revealed that nearly two out of three millennials are “anxious to follow their entrepreneurial instinct and start their own business.”
What may more accurately characterize my generation is our side hustle. Among millennials residing in NYC, Boston and LA, an average of 88% are more interested in starting a side hustle now than they were just two years ago, according to Wakefield’s research. And, while only 3.6% of all businesses were owned by someone under age 30 in 2013, one large survey found that 38% of millennials freelance.
6. We all want to work from home.
I prefer working from home. It turns out the majority of my generation doesn’t. A recent study conducted by Randstad and Future Workplace found that 42% of millennials surveyed preferred working in a corporate office, while 21% and 20% preferred working in a co-working space or home office, respectively.
Where we actually work most of the time seems to matter less than the option to work anywhere. Lack of workplace flexibility is one of the primary reasons millennials quit their jobs, and a Millennial Branding report found 45% of millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay.
This article was written by Caroline Beaton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.