Young workers face more financial stress than baby boomers at their age

Amid growing student debt and the changing retirement landscape, the financial situation of early and mid-career employees appears markedly different from that of previous generations, according to a new EBRI study.

Examining the financial situation of mid-career professionals, EBRI finds that Gen X families were less likely to own a home, have a retirement plan, and were more likely to be in debt than families. baby boomers of the same age. Additionally, while Gen X families were more likely to have a defined contribution plan and have higher balances in the plan, they also had higher median debt – including student loan debt. – and a lower median net worth.

And when looking at the financial situation of early-career employees, Millennials face a radically different experience than Gen Xers, notes EBRI. For example, homeownership rates were lower for Generation Y than for Generation X at the same ages. In addition, the median net worth of Millennial families was lower than that of Gen X families of the same age, while their debt was considerably higher due to the substantial increase in student debt levels.

Interestingly, the odds of owning any type of pension plan were not significantly different between millennials and millennials. However, millennials were more likely to have a defined contribution plan. than Generation X families.

These are some of the findings of “Comparison of the Financial Well-Being of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials: How the Generations Stack, which compares key financial metrics between workers of similar age in 2019 and 2001. Using the Survey of Consumer Finances, EBRI’s briefing note includes two sets of comparisons: Generation X vs. Baby Boomers and Generation Y vs. Generation X, comparing key indicators of financial standing across generations at the same ages.

Impact of race and income

Analyzing generational cohorts by race and income, the EBRI study further finds that the median net worth of black Gen X families entering their careers in 2001 was the lowest of any racial / ethnic group, to $ 14,000. Moreover, however, the data shows that it has only gotten worse. The median net worth of black millennial families is only $ 1,790, which is significantly lower than that of their white and Hispanic counterparts. The EBRI observes that this decrease is likely due to the fact that the student loan debt of black millennial families is more than double that of non-Hispanic white families. Black Millennial family student loan debt accounts for almost 43% of their debt, more than five times the proportion of student loan debt of millennial black families of the same age.

Holistic financial well-being

Millennials and Gen Xers are also more likely to rely on their own savings for retirement security and face greater challenges with student loan debt than baby boomers of the same age. This has resulted in increased financial stress in the workplace, according to the report.

As such, more and more employers are offering or seeking to offer financial wellness programs to help their early and mid-career workforce address their full financial situation, instead of just breaking down. focus more only on the accumulations of retirement plans. “The growing recognition of the competing demands that Generation X and Millennial families face to meet today’s expenses while having to save for their future has led employers to understand the need to provide good programs. -be financial in order to support the financial stress of their employees. The report says.

How these generations continue to manage their finances and professional careers will be imperative to their financial success in retirement, observes EBRI, adding that action will be needed for these generations to regain the ground they may have lost. compared to their predecessors. “Generation X and Millennial families face the growing challenge of balancing debt and spending while still needing to save for retirement,” notes Craig Copeland, senior research associate at EBRI and author of the report. “These generations may need to take important steps, including working longer, saving more and paying off debts, just to gain parity with previous generations.”


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