34 percent of all Millennials

A third of all Millennials and two-thirds of those who are age 18-24, the Unattached are still making their way in the world. They are less likely to be employed and make somewhat less money than other young Millennials, though they are somewhat more likely to be starting families. Their online life is more focused around entertainment than news reports—but they are far from newsless and in some ways are more oriented to it, and some of them may be more likely to be heavier news consumers than the Distracted cohort that is older.


Photo credit: iStock.com/Sturti

Demographics: The Unattached are 18 to 24 years old, and many have not yet established families or started careers.

Fewer than 1 in 4 (23 percent) are either married or have children, and only about 1 in 5 have a college degree yet. In terms of education, the Unattached are similar to their young Millennial peers, the Explorers, with about 1 in 3 having a high school degree (33 percent) and another 1 in 3 having some college education (38 percent). Nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) are not employed, which is the highest unemployment rate among these four groups of Millennials.

The Unattached have lower incomes than older Millennials but have earnings comparable to Explorers. About half of the Unattached have family incomes of less than $30,000 a year (47 percent), and only about 1 in 5 have family incomes of more than $75,000 a year (19 percent).

In terms of race and ethnicity, the Unattached are similar to other Millennials, especially the Explorers. About half of the Unattached are non-Hispanic white (52 percent), 13 percent are non-Hispanic black, 18 percent are Hispanic, and 15 percent identify as other.

The Unattached consist of an even mix of men (50 percent) and women (50 percent), and the gender breakdown is similar to the Distracted.

Motivation and interest in news: At this point in their lives, at least, most of the Unattached have a relatively low motivation about news. They say they mostly tend to bump into news and information, rather than seek it out. News is a part of their lives, as about half (53 percent) say they keep up with what is going on in the world. At the same time, the Unattached are far more likely to go online to stream music, TV, and movies (79 percent) than to get news.

Eighty-five percent of the Unattached say they pay for at least one type of entertainment or news service, and they are as likely as other Millennials to pay for content or a service. However, 48 percent of the Unattached use a paid news subscription, with 31 percent personally paying for digital or print news and 17 percent using a news subscription paid for by someone else. The Unattached are the only group of Millennials in which a majority do not use a paid news subscription, and they are the least likely to pay for news personally.

Unattached All Millennials
Pay for any service 85% 87%
Pay for news service 31% 40%

Data Source: Question: Please select any of the following types of paid products or services that you have regularly used in the past year. For each one, please check whether you pay for the product or service yourself, someone else pays for it, or both.

Media Insight Project

Most of the Unattached do not regularly follow current events. Nor do they tend to go online to get news-you-can-use to help them in their lives. They are more likely to get news about hobbies and entertainment.

As an example, only about 1 in 3 follow news about their job or profession (38 percent), their local community (33 percent), or do product research (32 percent).

Only 1 in 3 regularly follow national politics or government (34 percent), and only about 1 in 4 follow news about business (23 percent), international affairs (25 percent), and schools or education (26 percent). The Unattached are also less likely than all other Millennials to follow information about health care or medical information (27 percent compared with about 40 percent for the other three types).

In contrast, nearly 2 in 3 follow information related to their interest or hobbies (65 percent), and 3 in 4 keep up with what their friends are doing (73 percent).

The Unattached are also among the most likely to follow news about music, TV, and movies (73 percent) and style, beauty, and fashion (29 percent).

Online activities and social media:While many in this group do not go online to follow news, a significant majority goes online for entertainment.

Not only do 8 in 10 of the Unattached go online to stream music, TV, or movies, 53 percent use the internet to find information about events, movies, or restaurants, and 49 percent say they play games online.

Unattached All Millennials
Stream music, TV, or movies 79% 68%
Find information about events, movies, restaurants 53% 56%
Shopping or researching products 55% 56%
Playing games 49% 45%

Data Source: Question: Which of the following activities, if any, would you say you do regularly online?

Media Insight Project

Among Millennials who play video games, the Unattached are most likely to play at least several times a day (66 percent compared with 31 percent of gamers among Explorers, the other young cohort; 50 percent of gamers among the Distracted; and 49 percent of gamers from the Activists).

When it comes to social media, the Unattached tend to look for interesting or entertaining links to explore rather than for news. For instance, 58 percent say they go on Facebook to find entertaining things, higher than any other cohort (50 percent of Explorers, 52 percent of the Distracted, and 47 percent of Activists). Likewise, 48 percent of the Unattached go on Facebook to look for interesting articles compared with 40 percent of Explorers, 41 percent of the Distracted, and 38 percent of Activists.

The Unattached are the most adaptive when it comes to the changing social media environment. Asked about how they’ve changed their behavior over time, nearly 1 in 3, for instance, say they have stopped using some social network (31 percent), and 42 percent say they have tailored their use of social media.

They are also among the most likely to report they give up all of the time or fairly often on content online when it does not load fast enough (39 percent) compared with 34 percent of Explorers, 34 percent of the Distracted, and 28 percent of Activists.

Share with your network

You also might be interested in:

  • By sending data from their targeted audiences in Adobe Analytics into MFN, Crain was able to more clearly understand what topics, categories, and even story types were engaging readers in key parts of their coverage area.

  • Ways to support conversations for balancing innovation and stability in your news organization, essential considerations about this often overlooked topic, and guidance to include them in your technology decisions.

  • Successfully and efficiently marketing your work can be hard, especially for local news teams with limited resources, but marketing yourself to your audience is an essential skill for news organizations to drive revenue and promote sustainability.