Generation Z surpassed Millennials a few years ago as the largest generation. Savvy and practical, the skills and attitudes they have acquired in the brief span of their lives will impact the future of work. But it is their confident, independent views outside of the workplace, however, that will make them a generation difficult for everyone to ignore.
Generation Z is increasing female labor force participation rates, concurrently generating new demands for housing, consumer appliances, cars, and other goods needed to start a new adult life. As a result, these new households represent a significant share of the growth in total consumer expenditures each year.
However, their career aspirations are driven by watching how Millennial moms are being treated by the American government and corporations, and their conclusions will cause a snowball effect throughout the economy. According to a survey from luxury real estate firm Ruby Home, the career aspirations of generation Z women are being shaped by the experiences of Millennial moms.
They’re increasing female labor force participation rates, but generation Z women plan to postpone childbirth and have fewer children than Millennials. According to a recent survey of over 1,000 members of generation Z, 27% don’t want to have kids. When asked why they don’t want to have kids, 89% of generation Z women said they enjoy the flexibility their lives have from not having children and 70% value their alone time.
This is a problem because if generation Z delays motherhood, industries counting on further strong growth will be forced to cut back on production and deliveries from suppliers. Which ultimately cuts back on revenue for America’s small business owners and affects everyday people. This has happened in America before, during an early baby bust between the end of the baby boom and the late 1970s (generation X). It’s been cited as a driver of the ‘80s recession.
According to Werklabs (the research division of The Mom Project), in the absence of a federal paid parental leave policy, employer support and strong benefits are of the utmost importance to working parents. Parents to be are paying attention to their managers, the company culture, and human resources departments to see how existing parents in the company are treated. In some cases, they are factoring that information into their decision to stay with the organization or continue their journey to parenthood altogether. If they don’t see existing parents in their office being rewarded for their authenticity and transparency, why would these parents feel any more comfortable doing so?
Insights from the Ruby Home survey concur: 97% of generation Z members cite positive mental health as their second-most important life goal. Of the generation Z women who don’t want to have kids, 66% of them say mental health is one of their reasons.
According to the 2022 Motherly State of Motherhood Study, even generation Z working moms who have children are unsure if they plan on having more (27%, compared to just 22% of skeptical Millennials). Some cite career reasons as to why; 40% feel frustrated and want to combine a career and motherhood but need a new arrangement at work to make that realistic. They also express that their managers could better support them as a mother by proactively communicating to understand their needs outside of work better.
Suppose America doesn’t help all mothers easily exit and reenter the workforce today. In that case, working motherhood will continue to seem like an unbearable burden for women who value their careers in the future. Such an outcome will lead to another baby bust and recession in the United States.