Millennials are exerting a significant influence on the future when it comes to education, healthcare, and housing because they make up more than a quarter of the total United States population, or about 85 million people. They carry an estimated $200 billion of direct purchasing power and $500 billion of indirect spending. That power will continue to grow as they age to peak buying power in their forties and fifties, with a projected $30 trillion in inheritance over the next several decades. Combine that with about $1.5 trillion in investable assets, and they will shape the economy and public policy for decades to come through new venues of communication by voicing their concerns and acting upon it.

The White House report describes millennials as the generation born between 1980 and mid-2000s and the Pew Research Center as one born between 1981 and 1996 . There is no definitive agreement on the dates. Regardless, they will continue to be a significant share of the population for decades to come as the baby boomer's size declines. They are the most diverse and educated generation to date with 44 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.

They have witnessed the dot-com bubble, followed by the housing and financial crisis, and two wars all within their lifetime. Despite all of that turmoil, they are more optimistic than older adults and believe that the country's best years are ahead of them. They are redefining culture through social media. About half to two-thirds of millennials are interested in entrepreneurship, and more than 27 percent are already self-employed.

Millennial women are the first ones in modern history to start their working lives with near parity with men in terms of earnings, according a survey by the Pew Research. In 2012, among workers ages twenty-five to thirty-four, women's hourly earnings were 93 percent of men's.

Millennials are transforming existing industries while creating new ones that were not even imagined a few years ago. Whether it is music, communication, media, or consumer goods, they are creating jobs, enhancing consumer's purchasing power, and improving the quality of life for the middle class, and all Americans.

Taylor Swift, who was worth $200 million at age twenty-five, became the agent of change by calling for fair treatment of artists by refusing to provide free access of her album to Apple. Swift, who has sold millions of albums around the world, took Apple, one of the most powerful companies in the world, to task in defense of intellectual property rights. She challenged Apple's policy of not paying royalties to artists for any streaming of their songs during subscribers' three month free trial. She withheld her latest album 1989 from Apple's streaming service and said on Tumblr, "We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation." By that night, Apple changed its policy and began paying royalties to artists during three-month free trials.

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Munir Moon *** The Beltway Beast