Millennials aren't building startups like past generations, but not for the reason you think


friends millennials selfie

Isaac Brekken / Stringer / Getty Images

Millennials may call themselves the most entrepreneurial generation, but the data doesn't seem to back that claim up.


That's according to a new nationwide study by professional services firm EY and the Economic Innovation Group. They polled 1,200 millennials aged 18 to 34, asking them questions ranging from whether they're worried about repaying student loans to how government interference affects business.

But the most surprising aspect of the poll was how millennials view startups.

According to the study, 72% of millennials think startups and entrepreneurship "are essential for new innovation and jobs in our economy," and 78% think working for a startup is a signal of success.

The only problem? Just 22% of millennials would start their own company.


The majority of those surveyed said they'd rather stay at one company and work their way up. Only 25% said they plan to move from job to job, which runs pretty contrary to the popular trope that millennials are job-hoppers who only stay at a company for two years, maximum.

When you break it down by gender, both white women and white men are the most hesitant about starting their own business, while black women are the most entrepreneurial: 39% said starting their own company is the best way to advance their careers.

Barriers to entry

So what's holding back all these young people from starting their own ventures? Money.

More than 40% of those surveyed said access to capital was the thing hindering them from starting a company. For women and minorities, that number was even higher: 45% of women, 50% of Hispanics, and 48% of blacks said a lack of financial means was holding them back.

Money worries aren't all that surprising if you consider the plight of the millennial generation. Not only are women and minorities less likely to receive funding for their startups, but women in technology fields are still massively underpaid. Millennials have the highest amount of student debt, they're not making as much annually as previous generations, and they're more likely to be unemployed than Gen Xers ven though they're more educated.


So it's not much of a surprise that most young adults don't feel they can afford to take the financial risk of starting their own company. But if millennials aren't joining the startup world, that could be troubling for the future of innovation - and the economy as a whole.

NOW WATCH: These secret codes let you access hidden iPhone features