Millennials Optimistic About Finding Good Jobs, Worried About Student Loans

Members of Utah’s Millennial generation are concerned about finding job that provide enough income to pay off their student debts.  

That is one key difference between the Millennials (born from 1981 through the early 2000’s) and earlier generations, including GenX (1965-1980), Baby Boomers (1945-1964), and the Silent Generation (1928-1945) reflected in the second part of a report issued today by the Utah Foundation, Millennials and Boomers: How Utah’s Generations Compare to Each Other and the Nation.

This second report in a series of four looks at the attitudes of Utah residents in various generational groups regarding finances and workplace preferences. It also shows that Utahns are more stable in their jobs than their peers nationwide, especially those who are married and have children.

The findings in the report include:

  • Utahns seem to be more content than their national peers regarding their current incomes and more optimistic about their potential for future earnings.
  • While student debt burden has increased significantly for Utahns in the past decade, the average returns on higher educational attainment are already being seen by Millennials.
  • Utahns are more content than their national peers with current employers; Utahns with families are less likely than their unmarried and/or childless counterparts to want different employers.
  • Millennial Utahns are more likely than older generations to think that finding a job they want will be very easy.
  • Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers have similar attitudes regarding attributes of their ideal jobs – good compensation and having a good work-life balance were both high priorities. Millennials placed a higher level of importance on jobs that would allow them to pay off student loans quickly.

“There is a lot of concern about rising levels of student debt,” said Utah Foundation Research Analyst Christopher Collard. “But the increased earnings of those who have invested in education is also beginning to show up as they begin their careers.”

Only about half of the Millennials in the survey are carrying student loan debt. On average, student debt for Utahns is about $23,000. That is much lower than their peers across the United States.

The report also shows the differences in lifestyle of Utahns generally have an impact on their attitudes about their workplaces. Research Analyst Mallory Bateman says that the survey indicated that Utahns were more content with their current employment situations than their national counterparts. “Utahns in all generations, especially those who are married and have children, indicated lower propensity toward finding new employers in the next couple years and also seemed happier with current and potential future earnings.”

The report Millennials and Boomers: How Utah’s Generations Compare to Each Other and the Nation is based, in part, on the results of a survey of more than 1300 Utahns conducted by Lighthouse Research from March 11-28,2015. It is available online at The third and fourth sections of the report will be issued in the coming weeks.