Millennials: On Investing and Retirement

Move over Baby Boomers. These days all eyes are on Millennials, those young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who are now America’s largest living generation.1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials in the United States number more than 75 million — and the group continues to expand as young immigrants enter the country.1


Due to its size alone, this generation of consumers will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the U.S. economy. When it comes to investing, however, the story may be quite different. One new study found that 59% of Millennials are uncomfortable about investing due to current economic conditions.2 Another study revealed that just one in three Millennials own stock, compared with nearly half of Generation-Xers and Baby Boomers.3

On the Retirement Front

How might this discomfort with investing manifest itself when it comes to saving for retirement — a goal for which time is on Millennials’ side? According to new research into the financial outlook and behaviors of this demographic group, 59% have started saving for retirement, yet nearly two-thirds (64%) of working Millennials say they will not accumulate $1 million in their lifetime. Of this group, half have started saving for retirement — 37% of which are putting away more than 5% of their income — despite making a modest median $27,900 a year.2

As for the optimistic minority who do expect to save $1 million over time, they enjoy a median personal income that is about twice that — $53,000 — of the naysayers. Three out of four have started saving for retirement and two-thirds are deferring more than 5% of their income; 28% are saving more than 10%.2

So despite their protestations, their reluctance to embrace the investment world, and a challenging student loan debt burden — a median of $19,978 for the 34% who have student loan debt — Millennials are still charting a slow and steady course toward funding their retirement.2

For the Record …

Here are some additional factoids about Millennials and retirement revealed by the research:

  • The vast majority (85%) of Millennials view saving for retirement as a key passage into becoming a “financial adult.”
  • A similar percentage (82%) said that seeing people living out a comfortable retirement today encourages them to want to save for their own retirement.
  • Those who have started saving for retirement said the ideal age to start saving is 23.
  • Those who are not yet saving for retirement say they will start by age 32.
  • Of those who are currently saving for retirement, 69% do so through an employer-sponsored plan.
  • Three out of four said they do not believe that Social Security will be there for them when they retire.
  • Most would like to retire at age 59.



1Pew Research Center, “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” April 25, 2016.

2Wells Fargo & Company, news release, “Wells Fargo Survey: Majority of Millennials Say They Won’t Ever Accumulate $1 Million,” August 3, 2016.

3The, “Only 1 in 3 Millennials Invest in the Stock Market,” July 10 2016.


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