Arizona is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive business hubs in the country, not only for organizations looking to plant roots in the Valley, but also to individuals of all ages looking to further their careers in a wide variety of verticals and industries. One thing that makes Arizona’s workforce so unique is the generational diversity it promotes, where Baby Boomers and Gen Z’ers are rubbing shoulders in professional settings across the state. Industries like retail, advertising, automotive, finance, and more have these wide age gaps that pair young adults with tenured, experienced older adults. But what contributes to this unusual harmony of ages? Below are four of the primary contributing factors that have made Arizona’s workforce one of the most generationally diverse in the US.
Cost of living
Phoenix is quickly gaining a national reputation for having some of the best cost of living benefits of any state in the country. Millennials, or young adults between the ages of 18 and 39, comprise nearly 30 percent of Arizona’s total population, with more than 1.2 million residing in the greater Phoenix area. These young, hungry professionals are typically less set in their careers, and moving to, or remaining in, a place with such realistic living expenses can be a really attractive boon at the onset of one’s career. With certain coastal cities boasting enormous living costs, it’s no surprise that many are opting for Phoenix over San Francisco these days.
Diversity of industry
With Arizona becoming a hot destination for food, tech, real estate, and co-working, among other things, these industries are uniquely positioned to support employees of every age. According to WalletHub, Arizona placed within the top 25 percent of states with the best “business environment and access to resources.” As such, entrepreneurs and start-ups working on a tight budget find numerous benefits to planting flags here. Combining low rent costs and various hiring, recruiting, and training resources on hand, with a wide array of industries already thriving in Arizona, those factors work in conjunction to bring young and older professionals together.
Small business development
Compared to most other states in the country, Arizona ranks among the best places for startups, which explains why they seem to be flocking to the Valley in such impressive numbers. A range of resources, tools, and funding sources are available to entrepreneurs in Arizona, which in turn attracts droves of young professionals that may have eyed places like Silicon Valley in the past. According to data from the National Venture Capitalist Association (NVCA), venture capital firms invested over $538 million in local Arizona businesses last year.
In recent years, the advent of the gig economy and other technology-adjacent professions has allowed for much more collaborative environments than ever before. Large organizations like Lyft, Uber, American Express, Carvana, Nextiva, and State Farm all have strong presences in Arizona, along with national staffing and recruiting firms, all of which have made impressive use of technology to allow for telecommuting, remote access, and borderless collaboration. As such, talent pools to Arizona employers are much larger and diverse. Moreover, with the nature of gig economy and telecommuting, Baby Boomers can be active in the workforce for longer while Generation Z’ers can now join professional environments much earlier than ever before.
In recognizing this generational diversity, business leaders must strive to encourage tolerance among the generations the same way they encourage tolerance of other types of diversity. Stereotyping and prejudice of coworkers based on their membership in a particular generation is unhelpful and unproductive. Each generation has a unique perspective and strengths to bring to the workplace. With so many generations working together, companies can boost productivity by creating a culture where each individual’s unique contributions are valued.
Jennifer Ward is the Arizona president of the Employers Council.