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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In an age where “ok boomer” is a rallying cry for young people fed up with older people who don’t understand them, stereotypes abound of millennials spending money poorly.

The big picture: Labor economist Teresa Ghilarducci tells Axios that millennials don't behave differently than prior generations — they're just thrust into different circumstances. They’re less likely to be offered pensions or qualify for employer-sponsored retirement plans, so they start saving later in life and accumulate less compared to their predecessors. Two-thirds of millennials have no retirement savings at all.

Why it matters: Millennials are better educated, more diverse than ever and they’re now the largest labor force in America. But they also have a lower net worth and make less than their parents did, and their ratio of wealth to income is projected to remain lower than Gen Xers and Boomers throughout their lives.

  • “I reject any idea that millennials are more or less worried or indulgent,” Ghilarducci says. “I don’t see anything like that in the data.”
  • A Pew report also suggests that external factors — debt, flat earnings and increasing expenses — account for differences in their wealth compared to other generations.
  • The median net worth of millennial households was $12,500 in 2016, while Gen Xers had $15,100 in 2001 and boomers had $20,700 in 1983.

Yes, but: There is a small cut of the millennial population — known as “Super Savers” — who save a significant percentage of their income for retirement.

  • Saving "was a way for us to just get more control" in response to the last recession, Millennial Money creator Grant Sabatier tells Axios.
  • According to a survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 71% of millennials join employer-sponsored 401(k)s or similar plans, if they are offered.
  • And 38% of millennials contribute more than 10% of their income to these plans. They save more than Gen Xers (32%) and similarly to boomers (39%).

A recent study from financial firm Principal examines the habits of “Super Savers” — defined as those who save 90% or more of the IRS maximum or 15% or more of their income for retirement.

  • Their big sacrifices? 41% limit travel, 41% own “modest” homes and 43% drive older cars.
  • Jerry Patterson, senior vice president at Principal, tells Axios that family is one of the biggest influencers: 80% of super savers had parents who saved, and only 5% had parents who lived paycheck to paycheck.
  • Ghilarducci's data also suggests that many young people with large bank accounts “aren’t more prudent than others,” but benefit from inheritances, trust funds and not having student loans.

The bottom line: For millennials, having a lower net worth than their parents is part of their financial reality.

  • Even with many millennials managing to save more for retirement, on a larger level, “it’s meaningless until there are real solutions,” Ghilarducci says, like better retirement plans, cheaper education or even salary raises.
  • One thing most experts agree on is that saving a little, and early on, can still go a long way. “We’ve found that up to about 8%, there are very low opt-outs,” says Patterson. “You’ve got to build that nest egg.”

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer but picked up a new rival.