Millennials falling short on retirement?

Reports suggest younger workers need to save more for future

By Betsy Butler, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

March 8, 2018 — They’ve been called the trophy kids, the pride and joy of helicopter parents who are so ready to do anything for them that their children’s self-reliance, decision-making and risk-taking abilities are said to suffer.

They’re the millennials, a generation shaped by 9/11, the Great Recession and the rapid evolution of technology. Born from 1980-95, this generation also has garnered praise for their civic-mindedness, collaborative nature and inherent talent in using technology to interact.

Yet while the millennials have been described as entitled and ambitious, researchers say their penchant for saving for retirement seems to be lacking.

Millennials and Retirement: Already Falling Short, a new report from the National Institute for Retirement Security, found that two-thirds of working millennials have nothing – zero – saved for retirement, and those who are saving aren’t saving nearly enough.

Only 5 percent of working millennials are saving adequately (at least 15 percent of their salary) for retirement. What’s more, while two-thirds of this group work for an employer that offers a retirement plan, just one-third participate, often because of employer-set eligibility requirements like working a minimum number of hours or meeting minimum job tenure.

Will Millennials Be Ready for Retirement?, a brief released by the Center for Retirement Research in January, concluded that despite being more educated, diverse and confident, mil­lennials are less prepared for retirement than earlier generations because of their challenging experiences in the labor market and their high student debt.

There’s hope, however. Reports like these conclude that millennials’ future saving behavior, as well as the length of time they spend in the workforce, can help them enjoy a more secure retirement. What’s more, many millennials recognize the importance of preparing for retirement and the value of benefits as they age and achieve vesting. In fact, the vast majority of them see getting a fixed, lifetime monthly benefit upon retirement as a priority.

OPERS takes seriously the retirement needs of all generational cohorts. We continually review our plan design, including evaluating its appropriateness and attractiveness for members of all ages, including millennials and future generations. Our Education Department is planning to launch a financial wellness initiative for active OPERS members in all stages of their careers to address ways to improve retirement security.

A precarious future, including inadequate Social Security benefits and 401(k) balances, rising health care costs and increasing life expectancy, is leading researchers to focus on how millennials are going to fare in their golden years. Now that the millennials are well into adulthood, they need to take seriously the amount of money they’ll need for a secure retirement.

Betsy Butler

Betsy Butler is the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System’s knowledge and issues strategist, researching information on pensions, retirement and health care. Betsy came to OPERS in 2009 after working as a special collections librarian for two OPERS employers: the Ohio History Connection and Miami University.

Betsy Butler

Knowledge & Issues Strategist

One thought on “Millennials falling short on retirement?

  • March 16, 2018 at 8:35 am


    A very well written article that the younger generation needs to address. A financial wellness initiative sounds like a great idea but please keep in mind that most of us retirees attended many seminars over the years before retirement and we thought with the help of OPERS we had planned wisely. The huge cuts and elimination to our health care and now the proposed COLA cuts have greatly weakened our pensions.

    We are not asking for anything more than what was originally agreed to. Thanks


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