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Millennials want jobs that are meaningful to society

Posting in Energy

Cultural analysts like to call the millennial generation lazy narcissists. But there's a better adjective to use on the generation: compassionate.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and San Diego State University analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future survey, a yearly U.S. survey of 12th graders, and found millennials to be increasingly socially conscious. The study focuses on the changes in how young people view issues relating to concern for others and the environment from the time the survey was first conducted in 1976.

The latest results? The recession-era 12th grade students surveyed between 2008 and 2010 showed an increase in concern for others and had more of an interest in social issues compared with pre-recession 12th graders surveyed between 2004 and 2006. One example is that students surveyed during the recession were increasingly looking for a job that is "worthwhile to society," as this graph shows:

The study also found that recession-era youth were more likely to turn down the heat in their home to save energy (63 percent) compared with pre-recession youth (55 percent); more likely to think about social problems (30 percent versus 26 percent); and more likely to use a bicycle or public transit to get to work (36 percent versus 28 percent).

"This is the silver lining of the Great Recession," said Patricia Greenfield, professor of psychology at UCLA and senior author of the study, in a statement. "These findings are consistent with my theory that fewer economic resources lead to more concern for others and the community. It is a change very much needed by our society."

We don't know if this trend will hold as millennials get more prosperous, but if it does it could have a big impact on how millennials view business. In a recent global survey, Deloitte found that most millennials think the purpose of business is to improve society, followed closely by making a profit, and driving innovation. With millennials set to make up 40 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020, that could mean a major shift in the types of businesses millennials choose to work for and create.

Read more: UCLA

[Via Fast Company]

Photo: Flickr/Adam Scotti

— By on July 18, 2013, 6:27 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure