The Quiet Way America Will Really Change in 2015

No more complaining about being outnumbered. 

There will be more Millennials than Baby Boomers in America this year, according to the US Census Bureau. The Millennial generation is expected to number 75.3 million this year, while there will only be 74.9 million Baby Boomers. (Poor Gen X. They won't outnumber Baby Boomers until 2028.)​

Millennial Population

So what does this mean?

This is pretty big for the reason that Baby Boomers have dominated the conversation for a long time. Why? Because there have always been so many of them -- Baby Boomers were the children born during the population spike in the US between 1946 and 1964. The orange represents the increase in births during this period:

US Birth Rates

You can trace their coming of age with changes in the government's role in citizens' lives. After World War II, when returning veterans needed a leg up to support their young, Baby Boomer children, the GI Bill was passed to provide those parents with cheap college educations. In the 1950s and 1960s, we saw increased spending on schools and health care intended to aid the massive amounts Baby Boomer kids. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Baby Boomers were young adults, their liberal views and activism on issues such as race, music, sexual politics, and the Vietnam War changed America. And, when Baby Boomers started to become the primary taxpayers in the 1980s, we saw decreases in tax rates at the federal level and in some states. Today? They are retiring. As a result, funding programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which support retirees, are of primary importance.

Of course, this is a rough sketch. The Baby Boomer experience in America was by no means monolithic. Black Americans in this age group were prevented from taking advantage of many of these developments. So were women. But you can see the general outline. At the end of the day, numbers matter.

So how will Millennials influence America?

A recent survey from Pew said that Millennials are progressive on climate change, marriage equality, and marijuana legalization, while they mirror older generations on abortion and gun control. We should assume that Millennials will influence the nation on these issues.

But that also requires active participation. Despite their increasing share of the American adult population, they barely made their voice heard in the 2014 election. People under 30, who are most of the Millennial population, were just 12 percent of voters. As we have pointed out, though, part of the problem is that politicians have done little to talk to Millennial voters. That won't happen in 2016. Standing at more than 75 million strong, Millennials will be a key demographic for both political parties.

Nevertheless, this new data shows that Millennials can no longer make the excuse that they are "waiting for the world to change," as John Mayer put it last decade. This generation is empowered to make strides in business and politics based on their sheer numbers.