Poking Holes in All Those Millennial Myths

November 6, 2018

We get it: Millennials get a really bad rap. They’ve been called lazy, whiny, entitled avocado toast-obsessed brunchers with little sense of personal or financial responsibility.

But  are all—or any—of those stereotypes backed up by the data? We decided to dive into the numbers behind some of the major myths regarding millennials’ work and finance. What we found might surprise you.

Myth One: Millennials aren’t saving for retirement

Literally everyone should be putting aside more into their retirement savings, but the generations that came before millennials aren’t doing much better. Millennials actually contribute to 401(k)s and similar plans at the same rate as Baby Boomers, and more than Gen Xers, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Nonetheless, being average when it comes to saving for retirement still isn’t enough. Most Americans are not saving as much as they should, if at all. Don’t be one of them—aim instead to put 10-15% of your income toward retirement.

Myth Two: Urban millennials apartment hop rather than buying a home

A 2014 White House study found that, yes, millennials are less likely to become homeowners than older generations. That could be because many of them entered the job market during the most devastating financial recession since the Great Depression. But it doesn’t mean millennials don’t wish they had a place of their own. Real estate remains a sound investment, which is one reason why a NerdWallet survey found that buying a home is a priority for 82% of millennials.

Myth Three: Millennials have no loyalty and are too easily bored or dissatisfied with their work

It turns out that job-hopping isn’t unique to millennials: College-educated millennials spend the same average time with their employers as Gen Xers did at the same age—around 13 months, according to the Pew Research Center. It’s worth mentioning the same Pew analysis found that, as of 2016, 22% of millennials had worked for their employer for five years or more.

Myth Four: Millennials are the participation trophy generation, lacking a work ethic and expecting a pat on the back just for showing up

Studies show that there’s actually no difference in work ethic between age groups. According to an analysis published in the Journal of Business Psychology, millennials put in just as much elbow-grease as everybody else. (So there, Grandpa!)

Myth Five: Starry-eyed millennials all think they’re going to change the world and care more about making a difference than making a buck

This one has some truth to it, as younger Americans are more likely to say enjoying their work and making a difference in society are important considerations to them when choosing their first job. This is why, as the Dime is always quick to mention, that a public service career with a PERA-sponsored employer is a great way to give back and set yourself up for future financial success and security. Learn more about your many options here.