The Rise of Generation Z to Impact Corporate Site Location in 2020

Demographic data impacts corporate site location trends, and 2020 will see the start of the workforce impact of Generation Z on the corporate site location process.  Demography is the study of the structure of the population in terms of size, characteristics such as age distribution and education, changes in the population due to births, mortality and net immigration, etc.  In 1798, Thomas Malthus, a British essayist wrote about the effects of population growth on economic development.  Regions with an increasing population base and a group of younger workers illustrate growing communities.  The availability of a skilled labor pool is critical to regions being attractive to corporations searching for a location.  As an example, the %age of citizens over 25 with a college degree illustrates the likelihood the region can attract high-wage financial services, insurance, health care, high-tech, professional service and other advanced services white collar jobs.

The age and availability of a region’s workforce is a critical demographic factor impacting all corporate site location projects.  In 2019, Millennials, those ages 23 to 38, will outnumber Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73), according to Census Bureau projections.  Millennials are famous, or infamous, for the different professional approach they have taken than previous generations.  Millennials are characterized by a greater focus on where they want to live over where they can get a job.  Millennials are more educated, more racially and ethnically diverse and slower to marry than previous generations were at the same age. Although the nation’s 73 M Millennials are the largest living adult generation, the next one – Generation Z – is entering adulthood.

Generation Z (those born after 1996 – ages 7 to 22) are on track to be the best educated and most diverse generation yet. Nearly half of Generation Z (48%) are racial or ethnic minorities.  According to Forbes, growing up in the Great Recession, Generation Z is more likely focused on economic security than the Millennial aunts and uncles.  This generation is likely to be more entrepreneurial, less connected to their smart phones, more tied to intellectual growth, professional multi-taskers, and more independent but still is interested in being catered to. Also, according to U.S. News & World Report, Generation Z already represents $44 B in annual purchasing power, with 85% learning about new products via social media.

As workers, finds five key characteristics of Generation Z: preference for traditional communication; desire to work individually; mobile-first habits for research and work; motivated by economic stability; and naturally competitive. The Pew Center for Research found, that, significantly for employers and managers, Generation Z is entering the workforce with less job experience than previous generations. Only 19% of 15- to 17-year-olds in 2018 reported working during the previous calendar year, compared with 30% of millennials in the same age group in 2002. In 1968, nearly half of baby boomers (48%) reported working in the previous year when they were between 15 and 17 years old. However, that lack of work experience does not mean Generation Z is not ready to succeed in the workplace.  This generation has been taught that school is a form of competition where the best and brightest are rewarded with the college or university of their choice.  The economic future of 2020 is a little brighter with the addition of Generation Z workers with 61 M Americans getting ready to enter the workforce in the coming years.