- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2017

More millennials are aspiring to become small business owners despite the generation’s well-known distrust of establishments, a noted public opinion analyst says.

Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said the number of millennials wanting to become small business owners has increased by about 5 percent since the 1990s, enough to be considered statistically significant.

Previously, polls showed millennials aspiring to be teachers, doctors, lawyers or nurses, she said, adding that the new trend likely stems from the same skepticism Americans age 18 to 34 express toward government and business.

“They don’t think they can count on some of the big institutions of our society, but millennials seem pretty confident they can count on themselves,” said Ms. Bowman, who specializes in analyzing public opinion data regarding the economy, taxes and the U.S. workforce.

Ms. Bowman presented her polling data late last week during a Conservative Women’s Network luncheon at The Heritage Foundation.

Among her findings:

Millennials are the most educated generation in history and the most numerous, surpassing baby boomers.

Forty-eight percent of millennials identify as independent, 28 percent as Democrat and 17 percent as Republican.

Millennials are more supportive of same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization than any other generation.

Millennial attitudes toward business and government expose deep contradictions, Ms. Bowman said. Young adults lack confidence in the federal government but are not hostile toward Washington, often holding the government responsible for many tasks, she said.

At the same time, millennials bore the brunt of the Great Recession and witnessed layoffs of their parents and neighbors. Despite their skepticism toward big business, millennials have plenty of positive remarks about business in general, Ms. Bowman said. Asked whether business or government is the better option in getting something done, millennials overwhelmingly answered business, she said.

Ann Stone, co-chair of Women for Trump, welcomed the data.

“The fact that they do value small businesspeople is great,” Ms. Stone said. “That was a positive.”

President Trump can “certainly” reach millennials via their interest in business, she said.

Kelly Heilman, a student at The University of the South in Tennessee, said millennials’ evolving attitudes about small business is encouraging.

“I think the spirit of small business is [about] small government [and] less regulation,” Ms. Heilman said. “So hopefully that could lead people to a more conservative leaning as they grow up and expand the small businesses that they want to create.”


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