Gen Z and Baby Boomers can finally agree on something—the 2 generations are both optimistic about the economy bouncing back, new research shows



Much has been documented about the differences between Gen Z and Baby boomers, from what they deem an appropriate work outfit to when’s a reasonable time to arrive at work—even the language they use is alien to older workers. But finally, new research has uncovered some common ground between the two generations. 

Despite having officially entered into a recession earlier this month, Britain’s youngest and oldest workers are both optimistic about the U.K.’s economy. 

Mushroombiz, the consultancy for SMEs, polled over 4,000 Brits and found that more than a third of 18-24-year-olds and over 65s have confidence in the country’s ability to bounce back over the next five years.

In comparison, less than a quarter of older millennials and Gen Xers feel the same. 

The researchers didn’t delve into why some demographics feel more upbeat than others—but a further dig into the data sheds some light on Gen Z’s positive outlook. 

According to the research, young respondents were the most likely to have seen their salary increase in the last year: Gen Z were twice as likely as those over 65 to have recently received a pay rise. They’re also most likely to expect their pay to increase in the next 12 months. 

So fears about how rising inflation and spiraling costs will impact them may have been squashed by their employer’s splashing cash at them, potentially giving them a false sense of security. 

But that doesn’t explain why Baby Boomers are so optimistic about the future.

AI confidence may provide some clues 

To know why the oldest generation of workers aren’t fazed by the current economic climate, it helps to take a look at their blasé reaction to the hype surrounding artificial intelligence.

Recruitment giant Indeed’s extensive research found that while a third of young workers are fearful for their career prospects in the wake of AI, just 15% of those over 45 years old have such concerns.

“My hypothesis is that older workers have seen this story before. They lived through the rise of the PC, they lived through the rise of the internet,” Hannah Calhoon, Indeed’s head of AI innovation previously told Fortune.

Similarly, Baby Boomers have experienced crashes in the early 90s and then again in 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed—and they survived to tell the tale. It perhaps explains why seasoned workers who have weathered past workplace disruptions know that, ultimately, things will turn out fine.

“Boomers who are so often written off but have seen many years of economic hardship before are able to recognize that good times will return and the U.K. will once again be back at the top table,” Ed Surman, managing director of Mushroombiz said.

“Despite the habitual pessimism that has surrounded the British economy over the past years, the optimism of both the younger and older generations gives reason for hope.” 

Confidence is driving entrepreneurialism 

While Baby Boomers can retire safe in the belief that the economy will once again boom along with their pensions, it’s inspiring Gen Z to turn to entrepreneurialism.

A record number of the U.K.’s young people are looking to start their own business, Mushroombiz’s research shows. Nearly 40% of Gen Z respondents said they plan to start a business in the future, compared to 17% of the general population.  

Separate data from Lloyds Bank has echoed that Gen Zs are more likely than other generations to make side hustles a full-time gig, with three in five seriously considering quitting their jobs and becoming their own boss.

What’s more, they’re most likely to say that the current economic and job market conditions are what is driving them to think about creating their own source of income.

“While Gen Z are written off as ‘snowflakes’ this polling suggests they are the ones most likely to take the entrepreneurial risks needed to give our economy a shot in the arm,” Surman concluded.

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