Study: Boomers, Millennials Getting Restless About Pandemic
NEW ORLEANS – The latest report from the Gulf South Index show boomers and millennials in the region are changing course on their outlooks as the summer months wind down and we approach the end of the year. Optimism reigns with both groups as the number of people in our region who think “things are getting a lot worse” has decreased from 43% to 29% for millennials and 52% to 31% for boomers. However, the needle has not moved much in terms of how long they think the effects of the pandemic with last. Roughly two-thirds of both boomers and millennials still think the effects of COVID-19 will last a year or longer.
The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between the Ehrhardt Group – a public relations, content, issues and crisis firm – and Causeway Solutions, a nationally recognized research and data analysis company. The Index delves into hundreds of thousands of data points to “paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are going about their lives.”
While there are apparent similarities across both generations, in other areas, the two groups are quite different. For example, the percentage of millennials who said they are “extremely” or “very concerned” about the virus dropped from 76% to 64%; the boomers only shifted slightly down in their level of concern from 77% to 75%.
Boomers and Millennials Are Restless
When asked if they would like to return to their normal life today – if there were no government restrictions – 38% of millennials said “yes,” up from 27% in July; 25% of boomers agree, up from 18% in July.
This is also evident when asked about who should be on lock down. In July, 27% of millennials said “no one” and at the end of August, that number increased to 35%. In July, 36% of boomers felt that no one should be on lock down; that percentage of boomers sentiment increased to 43% in late August. Surprisingly, boomers are more likely than millennials to say that “no one should be on lock down.”
What Are People Willing to Do?
The restlessness continues when it comes to what people are willing to do.
As for dining out, 60% of millennials now say they are comfortable eating at a restaurant, up from 45% in July, while boomers have gone from 35% to 44%. This coincides with research by Morning Consult, which reveals that nationally, as of late September, 39% of adults said they feel comfortable eating at a restaurant, the highest since June. Morning Consult also noted that since they began tracking comfort levels with activities, respondents across the board have nearly always expressed the most safety in eating out at restaurants. This is good news for the struggling restaurant industry and hopefully serves as a sign that a rebound for the industry is imminent.
One area where both groups remain cautious is avoiding crowded places, where millennials are still at 87% and boomers at 91%. This is in line with the national trend of people still shying away from the idea of attending a concert, sporting event or festival. While people are ready to get out and socialize more, they want to do this in small, contained settings.
As for the willingness to travel and attend attractions, we see a maintained or slight increase in interest from both groups.
While Boomers are still very cautious to re-engage in these types of activities, millennials are feeling a little more adventurous.
Optimism on Economy is Climbing
When it comes to the economy, both groups are feeling optimistic in recent weeks. When asked if the economy is “good” or “very good,” 28% of millennials said “yes” at the end of August, up from 21% in July. For boomers, that number increased from 19% to 25%. When asked if they feel optimistic that 2020 will be a better year for them and their families, both groups increased. 49% of millennials agreed, up from 46% in July and 55% of boomers agreed, up from 49%.
So Close, Yet So Far Apart
On the national level, boomers and millennials are also starting to align with what they are comfortable doing as we approach the fall according to Morning Consult. This wasn’t always the case, as at the beginning of August, significant differences between the two generations were noted, with millennials more likely than boomers to be comfortable with an array of activities. However, in late September, that gap began to close on several activities as both groups now appear more inclined to venture out.
Causeway Solutions and The Ehrhardt Group conducted a series of online surveys, each of 1,384-1,500 adults with a margin of error of 2.5%. Surveys were conducted on March 25-27, 2020, July 18-20, 2020 and September 6-9, 2020.