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Class Division by Generation

Blogger: Jaime Morrison

The Ottawa Citizen recently published an article about the intergenerational strife around the politics and economics of working and earning, specifically identifying a separation between the Boomers and the Millennial generation.

This article aimed to define the inherent differences seen by these two generations as they enter the world of work, “Over the last 40 years, real wages stagnated, while housing prices and the cost of living increased; the average family has more debt than ever…” additionally, Foster explains, when each generation entered the work force they did so “in the context of fundamentally different social welfare states.”

This article made me question whether Canada’s changing economic reality will have a real effect on the way Millennials act within the employment market as they enter the work force, compared to older generations.

Our 2011 Millennial survey found that the top three employment priorities were the same for Millennials and Boomers in Canada. When it comes to the workplace, both generations most highly value Money, Security and the “Team.”

When asked to choose from a list of motivations Boomers prioritize employment security above all, for them to know that they will work there a long time is most important. Money, getting paid a high salary that lets you do the things you want outside of work, was their second highest priority. Finally, the Team, the atmosphere created by the people they work with is the third most important motivation for Boomers at work on average

Millennials held  the same top three priorities, but on average getting paid a high salary was the most important. This difference may be the result of life cycle effects, as most Millennials only just starting out on their careers are concerned with salary increase where most Boomers are happy to stay where they are. However, even despite life cycle effects we can see the similarities between Boomer and Millennial priorities at work.

The Citizen article supposed that “the changing structure and impact of class is tied to how we redistribute wealth in this country.” While we may be affected in the long-term by changing economic realities it seems that for now, as Millennials continue to enter the work-force our priorities remain similar to that of older generations.