For decades, the baby boomers have been the focus of much attention from businesses and advertisers. While they may still carry a lot of clout due to their wealth, they have lost the distinction of being the largest generation.
The generation known as millennials, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those born between 1982 and 2000, now outnumber the boomers, their parents or grandparents, both nationally and in New Jersey, according to new Census data.
More than a quarter of America's population falls into the millennial generation, and they now outnumber those born between 1946 and 1964 by about 8 million.
In New Jersey, there are about 34,000 more millennials than boomers, with the older generation comprising roughly 25.4 percent of the population and the youngsters making up 25.7 percent, according to an analysis of data from the Census' annual population estimates.
Census data shows the millennials are more diverse than previous populations -- 44 percent are minorities, nationwide. New Jersey's millennials are even more diverse, with just slightly less than half identifying as a race other than non-Hispanic white. By contrast, two-thirds of the state's baby boomers are white.
Even more diverse than the millennials are the youngest New Jerseyans. Children under age 5 are a minority-majority, with less than 44 percent considered non-Hispanic white. That is also more diverse than the nation as a whole, although the Census Bureau reports that the nation's pre-kindergarten set is, for the first time, more than half minority.
Because of the diversification of the younger generation, the nation as a whole, as well as New Jersey, have become less white. In New Jersey, about 43 percent of the population is minority, somewhat higher than the national rate of 38 percent.
Still, both whites and baby boomers dominate in a majority of New Jersey's counties -- often the same counties. For instance, Sussex, Hunterdon and Cape May counties have both the largest percentages of non-Hispanic white residents -- more than 85 percent -- and the greatest pluralities of boomers -- more than 30 percent.
Conversely, the most racially and ethnically diverse counties are also the youngest. Hudson County tops both of those lists, with more than 7 in 10 residents considered minorities and fully a third in the millennial generation. That's not surprising, as Hudson has traditionally been a haven for immigrants and it more recently has become a popular place to live for younger workers and families interested in a more urban lifestyle.