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Five Surprising Facts About California’s Millennials

Flickr/Patrick Giblin

The non-partisan government reform group California Forward is taking the pulse of the state’s “millennial” generation, namely young adults aged 18-29, and finding them surprisingly upbeat, considering the dismal state of the economy, the increasing crunch to get into (and pay for) college and the pervasive frustration expressed by their elders.

Here’s what the survey found about millennials:

1. They are optimistic about California and their own future prospects (67 percent say the state offers great opportunities for young people, versus 44 percent of baby boomers who say so).

2. They believe California has excellent schools and universities (74 percent of millennials say so, versus 54 percent of baby boomers).

3. They are more likely to trust the government (69 percent say they trust state government officials to make good decisions some of most of the time, versus 46 percent of everyone surveyed).

4. They are less partisan (37 percent of millennials call themselves independents, versus 27 percent overall).

5. Half of all millennials surveyed participate in volunteer activities (more than any other age group) but just 39 percent say they always vote (far less than any other age group).

It all raises a few questions: Are young people more upbeat because they’re still wet behind the ears and don’t know what headaches and heartbreak await them? Or is their optimism about California based on experiences that bode well for our future as a state? And how will their lack of partisanship and consistent voting play out for California’s political landscape in coming years?

The survey, released Tuesday, was conducted in February and polled 1,257 adults, including 600 millennials. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.