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Millennials balance hopeful aspirations and harsh economic realities

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Millennials balance hopeful aspirations and harsh economic realities

A generation skeptical of the “establishment,” and worried about the future.

Professional services firm EY and the Economic Innovation Group released a new national survey of Millennials, which revealed a generation convinced the economy is failing them, a generation that is willing to work hard to better their lot, and a generation experiencing a great deal of anxiety about the future. Many Millennials entered the workforce in the midst of a deep economic crisis and today find themselves racked by student debt and lacking confidence in most American institutions.

"This is a generation that values hard work, and they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get ahead in life. They will move away from home, they will commute long distances, to get the right job," added Kate Barton, EY Americas vice chair of tax services. "Many of them hope for an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. And while they truly respect entrepreneurship, they worry that they will not be able to overcome the significant financial and regulatory hurdles associated with starting a business."

"Millennials are the future of the US economy, and this survey helps answer the question of how businesses and policymakers can help this generation thrive," said Cathy Koch, EY Americas tax policy leader. "Millennials will soon be leading our economy, and their perspectives suggest certain policies and approaches that today's leaders can embrace to address their unique needs."

They worry that they will not be able to overcome the significant financial and regulatory hurdles associated with starting a business."

"The Millennial mindset was dramatically impacted by the harsh economic realities of the Great Recession, which has made them remarkably politically independent, economically pessimistic, and skeptical of traditional institutions," said EIG cofounder and executive director Steve Glickman. "What the establishment doesn't understand is that in their minds, Millennials did all of the right things – they worked hard, got their education -- but they incurred huge amounts of debt and the job market they inherited hasn't rewarded any of these sacrifices. Now they are deeply concerned about their future."

Highlights from the study include:

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