As the oldest millennials begin to enter their 40s, the topic of retirement increasingly becomes an important topic. Understanding such a large number of people—millennials includes everyone between 24 and 39, though those parameters can vary—has limitations. But studying the views, values, and behaviors of different generations can bring insight into what retirement might look like decades from now.
Millennials do care about retirement
It’s easy to find a meme or cultural reference that pokes fun at millennials for valuing immediacy at the expense of planning for the future. But research shows that millennials actually are focused on tomorrow. One study shows that nearly half of millennials have a retirement savings account. Whether that number means the glass is half full or half empty is up for interpretation, but, according to some, it’s at least on par with the generation ahead of them.
Generational differences exist, but so do generational similarities
Separating people into groups might suggest that the differences among them are more numerous and dramatic than they might actually be. Research released last year shows that 76 percent of millennials “discuss saving, investing, and planning for retirement with family and close friends,” which is slightly higher than generation X and baby boomers. They talk with financial advisors at about the same rate as generation X and baby boomers. That being said, more millennials say they are procrastinating on taking necessary action on retirement than older generations.
Millennials also think about long-term issues: They are concerned about their health in old age and place a high value on access to an employer-based retirement plan at the same rate as the other two generations mentioned in the study. Millennials who participate in a workplace retirement plan contribute a median amount of 10 percent of annual salary (however some experts say that millennials should be saving at least 15 percent, due in part to increasing longevity rates).
Millennials value stability, community
A new study about Millennials who work for state and local governments indicate that they value serving their community, as well as the benefits they receive as employees. Nearly 90 percent are “satisfied with the ability to serve the public,” and nearly three quarters said a pension benefit was a major reason they chose their job. Nearly all respondents said pensions provided an incentive to make public service a career, and most are confident they will be financially secure in retirement.
The bottom line for PERA members
It’s never too soon to start planning for retirement, even if the plan gets revised from time to time. This holds true for the more than 80,000 PERA members who are under 40. PERA members automatically make monthly contributions to fund their retirement, and PERAPlus allows members to take control of additional retirement savings. The lifetime nature of a Defined Benefit helps offset longevity risk (outliving retirement income), and being able to continue building a benefit at any of hundreds of employers in Colorado gives people the ability to serve their community, build a career, and feel financially secure in retirement.