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Millennials and Entrepreneurship

Sarah Ayres Steinberg explains why young people want to start businesses and the challenges they face challenges.

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idea light bulbYoung Americans want to start their own businesses, but the weak economy, high student-debt levels, and a complicated legal and regulatory framework—as well as traditional views about who can be an entrepreneur and what constitutes entrepreneurship—are holding them back. More than half of Millennials today express a desire to start a business, but fewer of them are creating new businesses than previous generations did at a similar age. As a result, our economy will grow at a slower pace and experience lower levels of both productivity and innovation in the future. Moreover, Millennials, who are already suffering some of the worst consequences of the economic downturn, will miss out on the opportunities provided by entrepreneurship, including creating wealth, improving their quality of life, and making important contributions to the economy.

This issue brief discusses the hurdles preventing today’s youth from starting businesses. Generation Progress brought together groups of young entrepreneurs in three different cities—Oakland, California; New York; and Columbus, Ohio—and asked them about their experiences, the challenges they have faced, and what policies they would recommend to remove the barriers of starting a business. This brief discusses the common themes that emerged from these discussions and pinpoints the key issues that should concern policymakers, educators, business organizations, and others who want to increase the level of entrepreneurship among Millennials.

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