Fueled by newly arrived immigrants, workers ages 18-34 have taken over as the dominant generation in the United States workforce, according to a new Pew Research survey.
For this study, Pew analyzed the monthly Current Population Survey, which informs the federal government's official unemployment rate.
"Not many immigrants come to the U.S. as children, not many immigrants come to the U.S. as seniors, most of the immigrants that come to the U.S. are in their prime working years," said Pew senior researcher Richard Fry.
While most generations have grown and changed by immigration, the young workforce today is being impacted by a greater magnitude. Fry noted that the volume of immigration is higher than previous generations, like in the 1970s.
"It's different in degree, but not in spirit," he said.
With 1 in 3 American workers between the age of 18-34, Generation X (ages 35-50), became the second largest share of the workforce. Due to low birth rates, Gen Xers only held on to the largest share for a few years, although there's a chance this could change. Baby boomers fell behind Millennials last year.
In January, Pew reported that the Millennial generation would surpass Baby Boomers in total population as well.
According to Fry, the labor force is constrained by an aging population that is slowing down in growth, which can hold down overall economic prosperity. The rise of the newest generation of workers creates an opportunity to address some of these issues, particularly with young women, by fostering work-life balance and encouraging more people to work.
"We need a bigger and bigger labor force and we're not getting it and these are the headwinds that we confront," he said.
The maturing generation in the workforce will push employers and employees to address issues of skills development and compensation for a new generation.
"Whatever else you think about this generation, are they entitled etc. Clearly they are maturing, they're taking on more responsibilities, and they're now the largest people in the workforce," Fry said.
Geneva Sands is a Washington, D.C.-based producer/editor focused on national affairs and politics. Egg creams, Raleigh and pie are three of her favorite things.