Millennials may be ceding the throne in the marketing world to Gen Z, but they still garner plenty of attention. Their lives are deconstructed on many different levels, from their financial goals to their vehicle brand loyalty and their grocery shopping habits. Those analyses are all helpful in their own right, but – stepping back to the big picture for a moment – how many of these prized individuals are there in the US? The most recent data out from the Census Bureau gives a sense of how large this coveted generation is.
Before putting out some numbers, there are a few problems to take note of. Chiefly, there has been debate over the exact definition of a Millennial; it used to be that 18-34 was the most commonly used bracket, though that time has passed now. This year the age range of 26-41 might be most appropriate, per Pew Research Center, meaning that last year (for the Census Bureau data covered), the age range would have been 25-40 (born 1981-1996).
By that definition, there were 72.2 million Millennials in the US last year, constituting 21.7% of the population.
Meanwhile, it’s also worth noting that most Millennials don’t even identify as Millennials, and a young Gen Xer might feel more culturally similar to Gen Y. In other words, cultural and behavioral tendencies don’t tend to have fixed age breaks. (That’s why many argue that it’s more useful to look at personas rather than age brackets. In fact, age doesn’t factor into identity formation as much as some other traits.)
Nevertheless, things being the way they are, marketers and researchers often look at age brackets. So here’s a reference list of some commonly used age brackets and their corresponding population estimates and population shares as of July 1st, 2021 (the most recent data available).
- 12-17: 26.2 million (7.9%) [pop share up]
- 18-24: 30.1 million (9.1%) [pop share flat]
- 25-34: 45.5 million (13.7%) [pop share down]
- 35-44: 43.4 million (13.1%) [pop share up]
- 45-54: 40.7 million (12.3%) [pop share flat]
- 55-64: 42.8 million (12.9%) [pop share flat]
- 65-74: 33.7 million (10.1%) [pop share up]
- 75+: 22.2 million (6.7%) [pop share down]
Some other popular age groups, including the ever-present 18-34 bracket:
- 18-29: 52.5 million (15.8%) [pop share down]
- 18-34: 75.6 million (22.8%) [pop share down]
- 18-49: 138.8 million (41.8%) [pop share down]
- 35-49: 63.2 million (19.0%) [pop share down]
- 50-64: 63.7 million (19.2%) [pop share up]
- 50+: 119.6 million (36.0%) [pop share flat]
- 55+: 98.7 million (29.7%) [pop share down]
- 65+: 55.8 million (16.8%) [pop share down]
Want an Excel file showing population estimates by single year of age and gender? We’ve formatted the data for you and made it available for download here.
A couple of other facts to leave with:
- As of July 1st last year, there were an estimated 97,914 centenarians (100+) in the US. Though that number had been growing each year for some time, it declined by about 7,000 last year. Sadly, this is most likely due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, some 73,427 – or 75% – of centenarians last year were female.
- There were more males than females for each single year of age from newborn through age 43, but then more females than males for each single year of age from 44 onwards (with two exceptions being the ages of 50 and 51). The biggest disparity in favor of males was for 14-year-olds (109,027 more), while for females it was for 72-year-olds (209,760 more).
Interested in different age groups’ media habits? Check out this report: US Media Audience Demographics, 8th Annual Edition
[Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 5/26 to reflect a more accepted definition of Millennials, after a reader comment.]