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Do Millennials have a lousy work ethic?

The Pew Research Center's huge new study of Millennials may have generated buzz for its viral "How Millennial Are You?" quiz, but the report itself contains a few intriguing nuggets about this generation's work ethic.

Such as:

  • Of the four big generational clusters of Americans, Millennials--generally those born after 1980 -- are the only ones who don’t cite “work ethic” as one of their defining characteristics.
  • (Add your voice in the poll below.)
  • Asked who has the better work ethic, about three-fourths of respondents [a mix of young and older adults] said that older people do.
  • By similar margins, survey respondents [a mix of of young and older adults] also found older adults have the upper hand when it comes to moral values and their respect for others.

The Pew analysts warn readers not to cynically assume these findings are a result of older people's gripes about "kids today." Instead, the researchers seem pleasantly shocked and even amused that, "when it comes to each of these traits—work ethic, moral values, respect for others—young adults agree that older adults have
the better of it. In short, Millennials may be a self-confident generation, but they display little appetite for claims of moral superiority."

So, Story Lab readers, help us out. I am looking to talk to employers and young adults, especially those in jobs that demand lots of hustle and little-to-medium pay, who can talk about whether young people exude a lot of grit, or if they whine (or brag) about all the hours they're putting in. Which Washington area companies that employ lots of young people -- those in their 20s, basically -- should I talk to? Do these Pew findings mesh well with what's actually happening in the workplace today? Send emails to

By Ian Shapira  | March 10, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  
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