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Most Millennials Have $0 for Retirement and We're All Fucked

A shocking new report calls this "deeply troubling." No kidding.
Photo by JGI/Jamie Grill

If you're a young person struggling with student loans, working a part-time job, and wondering if you'll ever be able to buy a house, it will probably come as no news to you that about 66 percent of your fellow millennials haven't saved a dime for retirement. According to a new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security, this "deeply troubling" data partially stems from both depressed wages and the fact that many new workers today are not eligible to participate in their company's 401(k) plans.


The majority of the employed people 21 to 32 who are saving for retirement have less than $20,000 stashed, though the average balance among that contingent of folks is $67,891. Unsurprisingly, matters are categorically worse for millennials of color. A whopping 83 percent of working Latinos in that generation have nothing saved for life after work. However, when a retirement plan is available, nine out of ten working millennial Latinos do put money away, which points to a massive structural problem in both the economy and the law.

In total, about 40 percent of millennials who didn't participate in a retirement plan said it was because they hadn't worked at a job long enough or didn't work enough hours to qualify, the study found. The NIRS recommends policymakers loosen the requirements of participation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

It also urges employers to increase auto-enrollment, up the percentage of contributions employers are willing to match, and generally inform workers about the necessity of putting a portion of every paycheck into a 401(k).

It is worth noting, however, that 401(k)s are generally bullshit. The savings vehicle was invented as an alternative to pension plans, though it ended up largely replacing them. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be putting the maximum allowable amount into one if you have the option, though. Something is always better than nothing, unless you want to literally die in the middle of your shift at an Amazon warehouse someday.

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