Axios What's Next

Picture of a futuristic looking skyline.

Alex here. I often feel like we millennials ended up as a liminal generation — we know lots of stuff isn't working, but we're not quite sure how to fix things. So, it's heartening to read in Jennifer's story today that Gen Z is driven to change the world.

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,062 words ... 4 minutes.

1 big thing: What Gen Z really wants

Illustration of the letter Z made out of overlapping ballots
Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

They crave work-life balance and mental health support. They dread getting stuck in a dull job. And they fault today's decision-makers for downplaying the issues that move them, like school shootings and racism, Jennifer A. Kingson writes. Meet Gen Z, as depicted by a new report.

Why it matters: Gen Zers — those born between 1997 and 2012 — will soon be the biggest U.S. voting cohort, and they vote in record numbers.

  • Plus, they'll make up 27% of the workforce in three years, per the World Economic Forum.

Driving the news: The report, from the Walton Family Foundation and Murmuration (an educational inequality nonprofit founded by Emma Bloomberg), paints a picture of a generation that prizes family and well-being over money-making, isn't afraid to job-hop, and sees civic participation as vital to advancing their values.

  • They "have low expectations that the government, corporations, and other institutions will prioritize them or take their needs into consideration," the report found.
  • They're "less conservative than previous generations and take a more progressive stance" on issues like social justice and climate change.
  • And they "see standing up for the voiceless as central to their identity, more than any other generation in America."

By the numbers: Gen Zers are different...

Professionally: They spend an average of only 2 years and 3 months at any given job, per CareerBuilder. Compare that to 2 years and 9 months for millennials, 5 years and 2 months for Gen Xers, and 8 years and 3 months for baby boomers.

Politically: Unlike prior generations, Gen Z "has not experienced a moment when America was united," the report notes.

Demographically: They're "the most racially and ethnically diverse" cohort in U.S. history, per the Pew Research Center. 52% are non-Hispanic white, compared with 61% of millennials in 2002 (when they were in the same age range), Pew says.

Gen Zers are also about twice as likely (42% to 23%) to say they experience depression and feelings of hopelessness compared with other generations, the report said.

  • And they're three times as likely (18% to 5%) to say they've considered self-harm or suicide.

Jennifer's thought bubble: What a difference a generation makes. At the cusp of the baby boom/Gen X transition, kids were so career-focused that "fully 40% of the 1986 Yale graduating class applied to [work at] a single company — the investment-banking firm First Boston," according to Geoffrey T. Holtz's 1995 book "Welcome to the Jungle."

The bottom line: Gen Z "will have an outsized influence on the future of the nation, and society more broadly," the report found. Evidence includes "the pressure they are putting on employers" and how they're "taking to the streets to protest gun violence or promote reproductive health."

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If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

2. A gas tax holiday wouldn't help much

Data: GasBuddy; Note: Estimates based on average consumption and fuel economy rates; Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

Even if Congress suspends the federal gas tax — as President Biden proposed on Wednesday — don't expect a windfall of savings, Axios' Nathan Bomey reports.

Why it matters: Drivers have been reeling from $5/gallon gas — more in some states — as other prices have also been soaring.

Yes, but: Taxes only make up a small portion of the cost of gas, and there's no guarantee oil companies would pass the savings along to drivers.

By the numbers: Based on $5/gallon gas, a gas tax holiday would mean savings of less than 4% per gallon.

  • The driver of a typical full-size SUV would save only about $4.60 a week, according to calculations by GasBuddy. That's not even enough to buy an extra gallon.

Plus, cheaper gas could increase demand and drive prices back up, warns GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan.

Alex's thought bubble: Suspending the gas tax would effectively subsidize internal combustion cars and oil companies at a time when we should be promoting electric vehicles and mass transit — not to mention reduce funding for badly needed road repairs.

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3. Juul could get vaporized

A teen uses a Juul e-cigarette in Oakland, Calif. Photo: Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

U.S. regulators could soon block e-cigarette maker Juul from further sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Vape companies and proponents argue the high-tech cigs are a safer alternative to old-school smokes, but others say they've ignited a crisis of youth nicotine use.

The details: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spent the last two years reviewing data from Juul, which has been fighting to keep its products on shelves.

Yes, but: Juul could appeal an FDA ban.

The big picture: The Biden administration has been cracking down on smoking more broadly — the FDA has also proposed a rule that would cap the amount of nicotine in cigarettes and some other tobacco products.

For your reading list: Alex's friend and former colleague Jamie Ducharme literally wrote the book on Juul.

4. We're getting nervous about our jobs

Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

The share of U.S. workers who fear losing employment income over the next month is climbing, according to polling from the Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index, Axios' Kate Marino reports.

Why it matters: We're not yet in a recession — but workers are starting to fear the worst.

By the numbers: 13.2% of lower-income workers now fear losing their jobs. That's up from around 10% in May — and a big reversal from previous months.

  • The share of higher-income workers expecting job loss jumped by more than 5 percentage points to 15.7%, its highest level in the last year.

Yes, but: Especially for higher-income workers, the fears don’t yet line up with reality.

  • The number of higher-income respondents who said they actually lost employment income in the prior four weeks was just 7%.

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5. Group Ubers (Grubers?) are back

An Uber car waits for a client in New York City.
An Uber car waits for a rider in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Uber is bringing back shared rides in several U.S. cities after halting the service for more than two years to help protect riders and drivers from COVID-19, Axios' Noah Garfinkel reports.

Why it matters: It's another sign that life is returning to normal, even if the pandemic isn't over.

Driving the news: UberX Share — formerly Uber Pool — is returning in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon, with more cities to be added later this summer.

  • UberX Share riders will receive an upfront discount and get up to 20% off their total fare if matched with a co-rider, per Uber.

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