By Jonathan M. Lamb as printed in the Triangle Business Journal on 10-17-14

If you think you understand economics you are full of it, if you think you understand Millennials, you are really full of it. I am a Millennial, and I don’t even understand myself. Combine Millennials and $1 trillion dollars of buying power and you have a few unknowns.

There are at least “laws” of economics, such as supply always equals demand. As complicated as economics gets, it boils down to common sense and a few basic laws. No such luck for understanding Millennials. Millennials are the most educated group of people the world has ever seen, however they are slowly losing basic common sense. What will happen when the Millennials are the breadwinners of our society and economy? With rising education and diminishing common sense what will happen to our laws of economics?

So why do we care about the Millennials? They make up 25% of the US population, with over 80 million of us. The Millennial population is larger than the Baby Boomers and 20% bigger than Generation X. Researchers, marketing departments, and economists have spent countless dollars and time studying every generation, they have established basic core values, wants, and buying patterns that were shaped from events of each generation, such as war, tragedy, or technology. But not the Millennials…

The Millennials are mutts; we are a melting pot of all the generations, geography, societies, and cultures. So what are the hard and fast rules of the Millennials? Is this “Generation Me, Me, Me,” that was raised on 24-hour cable TV, the internet, and video games ever going to get married (and stay married, unlike their parents), are they going to flock to city centers or live in their parents basements forever? Are they going to be like their Yuppie parents, or Boomer grandparents? What will they do with their money, how will they earn it, spend it, save it, invest it, and give it?

The answer? We will surprise you, and ourselves. There is no reason to run through the streets in panic of an imminent economic implosion and financial Armageddon, but there will only be one constant when the Millennials take over the economy, and that is change. Millennials will still need food, shelter and clothes, but just when you think you have us Millennials figured out…we will change, just to keep you on your toes! Let’s hope that our education can make up for our lack of common sense, but hey, we can’t wreak any more havoc on the economy than the generations before us…can we?