Millennials – By the Numbers

Oldest Millennials Reach 37 in 2017: A Primer on U.S. Population by Age and Generation


Millennials totaled 71 million in 2016. The generation will grow over the coming years from immigration (young adults represent the largest share of immigrants). Between 2015 and 2016, the millennial population rose by 362,000 residents.

Millennials are no longer just 20 year olds becoming established in their careers. The youngest millennials, who were 21 in 2016 (and 22 in 2017) still fit this age and stage-in-life stereotype. However, the oldest millennials reached 36 years in 2016 (and 37 in 2017).  In 2016, 43% of millennials were in their 30s. In 2017, 49% are in their 30s.

Younger millennials are particularly significant to multifamily demand since they are predominantly renters. Older millennials, however, have moved into ages where home-ownership is more prevalent. As for millennials having children, the small number of very young children confirms that millennials are not yet having kids in any large numbers.

Generations and Consumer Spending

Demographics are partly to blame for weak retail performance.

Peak consumer spending occurs typically in the late 40s. With baby boomers aged 52 to 70 in 2017, they continue to shift away from consumer spending. Gen Xers are now in their peak buying years, but the smaller Gen X group is not making up for the decline in baby boomer purchasing.

Background on Data and Generations

Annually, the U.S. Census Bureau issues population estimates by age as of July 1st in the preceding year. The 2016 estimates were released in mid-April.

It can be argued that too much emphasis is placed on the generations and their so-called collective behavior. Nevertheless, it is useful to understand the demographic characteristics of the generations since they are so much part of the social and economic conversations.

The Census Bureau is not the arbitrator of generations, but names and definitions evolve through a variety of sources. In the case of the baby boom generation, the beginning and end years are marked by sharp changes in birth rates.

The beginning of the millennial generation is fairly clear, but there is not uniform consensus on where to draw the line between millennials and the next generation. The dates used here, however, are the most common.

As for the youngest generation(s), there is also no consensus yet on where “Gen Z” will end, nor for that matter if the “Gen Z” moniker will stick or some other term will take its place.

By Jeanette Rice, Americas Head of Multifamily Research, CBRE.