Investing in Gen Z

Generation z

As IEI researched its latest emerging issue in North Carolina, we discovered that one of our biggest challenges didn’t lie with things, but with an entire generation of our people. The opportunities for Generation Z are shrinking, and it is IEI’s goal to find new pathways for through which they can prosper.  

Content table


The digital age has given rise to a new generation of students, consumers and citizens who see and interact with the world
differently. This Generation Z–roughly, those born between 1990 and 2000–is the most connected and diverse in our history.


These American teens and twenty-somethings are also breaking ground in other ways: for the first time, they may experience a lower standard of living and lower life expectancy than their parents. In North Carolina, population growth, increased diversity, and economic restructuring driven by technological change and global competition help drive these challenges. Entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession, and the jobs available will be very different than previous generations.


Voices of a Generation

These youth are the 1.5 million North Carolinians that represent the future of our state. Here at the Institute for Emerging Issues, we’ve traveled across the state — from east to west, rural to urban, from both public and private institutions – to hear what these individuals have to say about the hopes, challenges and dreams they have and see for the future. Listen to what some of these focus group participants have to say.


By 2020, as the tail end of this cohort reaches its high school graduation, it will be an important part of our state’s citizenry and the emerging core of its labor force. If North Carolina is to set itself up for global success in the years ahead, we must act now. Learn more about Gen Z’s challenges 



Several organizations have partnered with IEI to address this important work. Here are some of them: