Over the past few years, it has become generally accepted wisdom that the Millennial generation cares less about cars and drives less than the generations of Americans that came before them. However, a recent dig into one dataset by The Atlantic's Citylab blog finds that assertion might not be entirely accurate.

The information is based on recently released US Census data examining people 18-34 in 1980, 1990, 2000 and from 2009-2013. It found that for the entire country driving in this age range has changed little in the past 30+ years. For the most recent group, 84.5 percent commuted to work by car or carpool. Contrary to popular assumption, that figure was higher than in 1980 at 83.8 percent. However, the figure was lower than in 1990 at 85.6 percent and in 2000 at 86.7 percent.

Furthermore, Citylab did an analysis on just the data for the nation's 25 largest metro areas and came up with some intriguing results. For seven of them, driving among people ages 18-34 actually increased compared to 1980 – led by an 8.1 percent jump in San Diego. Nine other cities showed numbers within a single percent higher or lower than the '80 figures. However, nine locales did show a decline in driving among young folks, with New York in the lead with a 9.4 percent decrease.

This data seems to suggest that the concept of Millennials driving less might be overblown, but it unfortunately doesn't tell us what kind of time they spend in their vehicles. Other studies have shown that the average number of miles driven for people 16-34 dropped by 23 percent from 2001 to 2009.


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