The term first came about in 1991:
Finally, today's (Civic) Millennial tots, born after 1981, are already the stars of cuddly baby movies and the objects of wartime sympathy. America's next great cadre of doers, they will grow up basking in adult praise for their intelligence, obedience and optimism. They will happily participate in a national service a Boom[er]-run Congress is likely to establish for them. But rising Millennials will be encouraged to build more than reflect. By the time today's infants reach age 30, spiritual energy will be the province of the old, not the young.This is Generation Y, the Echo Boomers, with a fancier name. Last night 60 Minutes had a whole article on them. So what are these kids like?
—William Strauss, "The 'Constellation' of 1991'," The Washington Post, February 24, 1991 (Via Word Spy)
- They number 75 million in the US according to most of the sources I looked into. They are the most recent generation starting in 1977 or 1978. The oldest of them are entering the workforce as we speak.
- They eat, drink and sleep technology. They have cell phones, computers, pagers, game consoles, etc. They use the Internet to connect to their friends and to the world. They use the Internet principally for their news and information.
- They are in great demand by the job community. They are sure of themselves and will up and leave a job if they are not happy.
- They are a diverse lot. Only 61 percent of Millennial adults are white; 15 percent are black, 4 percent are Asian, and 17 percent are Hispanic. In comparison, 84 percent of Americans over 65 years of age identify as white. A Gallup Poll on interracial dating found that 95 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of blacks and whites dating. About 60 percent of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race.
- Despite common wisdom, today’s young people are quite religious—and may be growing more so—although not as wed to traditional forms of worship as older adults.
- A 2006 Young Voter Strategies survey of young adults found that gas prices (19%), education (15%), jobs & the economy (12%), and Iraq (10%) are top issues they see as in need of Congressional action.
- They are the most educated generation in history. They are finding they need post-baccalaureate education to enhance their careers and increase their incomes.
- They are swimming in debt.
- They are patriotic and aware of terrorism. The central uniting event in their lives is September 11, 2001.
- They are confident, hopeful, goal-oriented, civic-minded and inclusive.
- They grew up seeing things as global, connected and open for business 24/7.