The idea of safety is deeply personal. We all have our own beliefs about what it means to feel safe and secure. As we grow older and our lives change, so does our concept of personal safety. From infancy to retirement, the need for safety remains an important part of our daily existence. In “Playing it Safe: How Our Idea of Safety Grows With Us,” an ongoing blog series, we’ll focus on how our perception of safety changes over a lifetime to adapt to our current needs and ideas as well as those we see in the future. Today, we’ll focus on millennials: those born between 1982 and 2004.
For millennials, the concept of safety is linked to a sense of independence. Carving out a space of one’s own is one of the most important steps on the path to adulthood. Whether they are living on their own for the first time or moving in with a significant other, many millennials are now at the point in their lives where they are beginning to seriously consider safety and what it means to them for the first time.
Most millennials are concerned with building a safe life – one that is financially stable and secure. But for this generation, that has been a particularly difficult challenge. Millennials grew up in a time of tumultuous change and economic uncertainty. While previous generations were able to pick one job and stick with it for life, millennials entered adulthood at a time when job security was becoming increasingly hard to come by for even seasoned workers. As a result of the Great Recession, many people remain unemployed or underemployed and many millennials saw their careers and earning potential delayed by years, with some millennials in competitive or niche industries still struggling to find consistent employment that pays a competitive wage. Without the security of years of experience on a traditional job, millennials are less certain about their futures.
While the economy has continued to rebound since ‘08, the impact of this rebound has not been felt by everyone, and many millennials remain concerned by the instability of their situation. They are well-aware that a host of issues can, and most likely will, impact them negatively in the years to come. Technology will continue to disrupt the labor force leading to less jobs or less hours on the job available, causing not only decreased wages but also possibly compromising their access to low-cost health care provided via their employers, which in turn could easily cause another major financial crisis at any time. Low wages and lack of job security has made it increasingly difficult for this generation to save for the future. Furthermore, millennials are carrying most of the nation’s debt, and this debt continues to weigh on their life decisions. Unlike previous generations, who had certain financial safety nets in place, millennials have some major hurdles to overcome before they can focus on financial safety and stability.
In part two, we’ll talk more about how these issues have affected millennials’ view of safety, as well as how their strong affinity for technology can aid their search for safety and security.