Millennials need a lot more than a $1.9 stimulus package to heal their economic wounds

millennial
The stimulus will help millennials, but they also need longer-term solutions.

Are financially burdened millennials finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?

The House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus package on Wednesday, and President Joe Biden just signed it into law.

Designed to boost the economy during the worst crisis seen in generations, the law provides everything from additional funding for small businesses and vaccine distribution to housing and rental benefits, and a pot of money for state and local governments. An early analysis of the rescue plan indicates the vast majority of its benefits are squarely directed at middle and low-income households.

But it also has the potential to be a stepping stone that millennials need to help climb their way out of the affordability crisis they’ve been facing for most of their adulthoods, marked by two recessions before the age of 40.

Beefing up unemployment benefits to $300 a week will help many Americans, but especially the younger workers who have been hardest hit in terms of income loss during the pandemic. The older cohort of millennials in prime child-rearing years stand to benefit from a beefed-up child tax credit that will put up to $3,600 in the pockets of parents. And $1,400 checks will help cover the things millennials struggle with most: living costs like rent and debt.

While critics say the final American Rescue Plan is missing some key initiatives like a federal minimum wage hike and student-loan debt relief, it has overall received widespread support. A new Morning Consult poll found that 75% of voters support the package, including 59% of Republicans.

While it’s a good start, millennials need more to heal their economic wounds; they need solutions to restructure the broken economy they inherited.

Millennials have been facing an affordability crisis

Millennials are a generation of optimistic, hard-working people who have been dealt a bad hand, according to Jill Filipovic, author of “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk,” which explores how boomers created an economic crisis that will leave millennials the first generation worse off than their parents.

“None of this was an accident,” she told Insider back in August. “If we understand where millennials are and how we got here, we can have a better idea of how to fix things going forward.”

The oldest millennials came limping out of the Great Recession with crippled finances, and they were still dealing with its lingering effects a dozen years later, when the coronavirus recession hit.

The financial crisis left the oldest millennials with wealth levels 34% below where they would be if it didn’t occur, and it could have led to stagnant wages for the generation up to 15 years after graduation. Coupled with student-loan debt, soaring costs for things like houses and health care, and now, income loss due to the pandemic, it’s been a grim wealth-building journey.

millennial job loss
Many millennials have struggled with everything from rent to student-loan debt.

But these aren’t the only economic forces behind millennials’ economic plight.

A November Deutsche Bank Research report stated that younger generations have been hit hard while older generations have reaped benefits from the economy. Boomers, it said, saw an increased value in assets thanks to low interest rates and inflated housing prices. They didn’t have to pay as much for education as millennials have, nor will they face the cost for environmental damage caused by the carbon emission-releasing companies in which they’ve invested.

Boomers have been questioned by authors like Filipovic and news outlets ranging from Vox to the Guardian for their role in bankrupting the rich economy they inherited, leaving millennials to pick up the pieces. And they’re not actively setting up a framework to fix this.

Neil Howe, the economist, historian, and demographer who coined the term “millennial,” told Insider that boomers refuse to pay for institutional upkeep, preferring to spend money on things that change people’s lives now. He said this is a result of their coming-of-age experience, in which their parents, the GI generation, cared about building strong institutions and looking into the future. Boomers took that for granted and developed a “live-for-today attitude,” he said.

Consider when boomers entered the same life stage millennials are in now, in the 1980s. They supported the increasing financialization of the economy and a massive reduction of taxes, causing financial asset speculation to become both disconnected from and controlling of the real economy, Kurt Andersen, author of “Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America,” told Insider in February.

Millennials need a game plan and room at the table

Biden promised to “go big” on a stimulus package, and he delivered with a progressive historic bill that some have likened to FDR’s “New Deal” agenda of the 1930s. As Insider’s Juliana Kaplan wrote, it has the potential to inject the government into American life in unprecedented ways, while Insider’s Ben Winck reported that’s part of $5 trillion in stimulus going back to the early days of the pandemic during the Trump administration.

Putting cash in pockets and fattening unemployment benefits will inevitably be a leg up for many millennials suffering from economic hardships. But it needs to be followed up with longer-term action.

“Millennials would like to see a real game plan,” Howe said, adding that they ideally want to see society move in a more constructive way that ensures their future. The older generation, he said, is more focused on getting through the next six months than investing in a structural solution for the future.

Joe Biden
Biden needs to follow up the stimulus package with long-term action.

Take the question of student-loan debt, for example. Biden has advocated for canceling up to $10,000 of it while resisting the more progressive agenda to cancel up to $50,000. Biden claims he lacks the legal authority to do it.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren disagrees, and she was a cosponsor of a tax exemption in the stimulus on student-loan forgiveness through 2025. She argues it sets the stage for student loan forgiveness. While this would wipe out debt for 15.3 million Americans, it doesn’t solve the problem of the rising cost of tuition that leads to such massive student-debt burdens.

But millennials are by and large waiting for a political class from another generation to make these decisions.

Boomers have held tremendous political, cultural, and economic power for the past several decades, Filipovic said. “What millennials need is not just boomers imparting their wisdom and experience, but really making room at the table for us,” she added.

While the number of millennials in Congress rose slightly this year by 1%, they still only make up 7% of Congress with 31 out of 532 voting members, per the Pew Research Center.

“Unless millennials are at the table, we’re really not going to see the issues that are most important to us addressed,” Filipovic said. “You need people who are actually going to live in the future, who have a stake in the future, at the decision making table.”

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NYC landlords are sitting on apartments because rent is getting too cheap. They’d rather keep them empty.

New York City
New York City landlords are keeping some apartments off the market.

New York City real estate is a finicky game: Apartment-hunting New Yorkers have been scoring deals left and right, but some landlords are trying to beat the discounts by holding empty apartments until prices rebound.

They’ve been yanking empty apartments off the market while demand and rent are low, a practice known as “warehousing,” The Wall Street Journal’s Will Parker reported. While warehousing is a typical approach when demand is down, Parker wrote, it’s reached new heights amid the work-from-home economy and stronger tenant eviction protections.

Parker cited data from real-estate analytics company UrbanDigs: During peak warehousing in August, landlords pulled 5,563 unrented apartments off the market. That dropped to 1,814 unrented apartments off the market in February, but the latter number was still triple the amount of apartments taken off the market in February 2020.

Landlords are likely holding these units in hopes of higher rental prices come spring and summer as the vaccine rollout continues, John Walkup, cofounder of UrbanDigs, told Parker, preventing more New Yorkers from locking in long-term deals.

New Yorkers are scoring deals on rent drops and concessions

“The pressures COVID placed on the marketplace created a unique opportunity to secure leases in prime locations and great buildings for significant discounts,” agent Ryan Kaplan, of Douglas Elliman, previously told Insider.

Rents in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens all had the largest year-over-year declines on record over the last year, dropping a whopping 15.5% in Manhattan and 8.6% in both Brooklyn and Queens, per StreetEasy’s January Rental Report. The median asking rent in Manhattan was $2,750 – the lowest it’s been since March 2010, when rents dropped during the Great Recession.

Some buildings are even offering concessions of two to three months free on leases, which lowers a tenant’s net rent and can allow them to rent out a nicer building with more amenities.

Chris Schmidt, senior vice president of Related Companies, which owns luxurious rentals at buildings including The Strathmore on the Upper East Side and One Hudson Yards, where one-bedrooms can go for as much as $7,453 a month, told Insider in February that Related’s rents were trending down about 15% to 25% depending on the unit type.

Millennials in particular have been taking advantage of falling rents and discounts, upgrading to luxury apartments that suddenly fit within their budget in pursuit of more amenities, space, and the solo life.

But how long these deals will last depends on when the city fully reopens, Schmidt said, and he anticipates more real-estate momentum as vaccinations continue. “That’s going to force a lot of people seeing these steeper discounts to make a quicker decision,” he said, adding that as soon as there’s a better indication of when the workforce will return to offices, rents will start to go back up to pre-pandemic levels.

Nancy Wu, a StreetEasy economist, recently told Insider’s Libertina Brandt she doesn’t think that will happen in 2021.

“Rent will continue to be lower than they were a year ago for the full year,” she said. “Even with the vaccine coming, it’s not going to magically make the huge glut of inventory go away. Prices will continue to fall until the inventory settles a bit, more people come back to the city, more jobs are recreated from the loss of small businesses, and the city returns, somewhat, back to where it was before the pandemic started.”

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Millennials splurging on steaks and wine are fueling NYC’s indoor dining scene

millennial inndoor dining nyc
Indoor dining in New York City reopened on February 12.

Millennials are driving New York City’s indoor dining scene.

Restaurant owners in the city told Bloomberg’s Kate Krader that although many diners still prefer outdoor dining, young adults are more likely to eat inside – and they’re splurging while doing so.

Nearly a year of restaurant deprivation and a decline in restaurant hopping amid restrictions is causing the cohort to shell out for high-priced items like steak, wine, and tasting menus, sending check averages and tips on the climb, restaurateurs told Krader. Tip averages increased from from 19% to 21% at Il Buco and Alimentari, she reported.

It’s all a sign of life for restaurants since February. Daily revenue across dine-in, takeout, and delivery declined in February, as did number of seated guests, per a UBS research note. Americans have continued to eat more at home amid cold weather, according to a recent Bank of America note. But both banks signaled the chances of a rebound.

March has already seen an improvement in dine-in demand, per UBS, while BofA predicts more people will flock to restaurants when restrictions get lifted and upon vaccine rollout and better weather. “There is a significant amount of pent-up demand to eat out again as consumers are tired and bored of cooking at home,” states Bank of America.

Indoor dining in NYC resumed on February 12 (it’s currently at 35% capacity), and millennials are fulfilling both banks’ forecasts. But their spending may not be enough to save the restaurant industry, Krader reported, or those who work in it.

A struggling service industry

Service workers have been hit hard during the pandemic. While food services saw some notable increases in employment in February 2021, bar and restaurant jobs are still down by around 2 million since the start of the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A McKinsey report also found that, post-pandemic, workers in “declining” sectors such as food service may have to make some substantial career changes to stay afloat. In fact, according to McKinsey, more than half of them will have to find higher-paying jobs – requiring different skills – on the other side of the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, service workers have also found themselves unable to work from home, but instead in environments sometimes requiring indoor interaction with unmasked customers. A study from UCLA and UC Berkeley researchers found that fast-food workers in LA County were “especially vulnerable” to COVID-19, Insider’s Grace Dean reported.

Demographically, those workers have disproportionately been women and people of color – a continued trend of some of the most vulnerable workers being the hardest hit. In December, Eater reported that indoor dining was the “fastest growing” source for the spreading of coronavirus, according to the state.

While New York City restaurant workers are now eligible for vaccines, The City reported that many were struggling to secure a coveted slot before restaurants reopened for indoor dining.

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Millennials are snapping up homes before they even see them, and it’s the latest way they’re bringing house hunting online

millennials home buying

Some millennials are finally making the leap into homeownership – and many are doing so without first seeing houses in person.

These first-time homebuyers are increasingly making offers on houses they’ve shopped for online, reported for The New York Times’s Debra Kamin. The trend is the result of a combination of factors, Kamin wrote: It’s socially distanced, an easier and less time consuming process for those buying a house in an area they’re not currently residing in, and a way to move swiftly in a cutthroat period when houses are flying off the market.

House hunting online is also second nature for a generation who grew up with the internet.

“Millennials are a more digitally savvy generation,” Sarah Pierce, head of operations at Better Mortgage, told Kamin. “When they come to us, they’ve looked on Zillow for a home, they’ve Googled mortgage rates. They’re not going down to their local mom-and-pop shop for a loan on Main Street.”

In a recent survey by Clever Real Estate, 44% of millennials said they would buy a home based on listing photos alone. And nearly 80% said they could be persuaded to buy a home sight unseen under certain conditions, like if it was a newly constructed home or if they had someone to look at the house on their behalf.

Both Zillow and Redfin told Kamin that they’ve seen traffic uptick exponentially to the 3D tours on their websites during the pandemic. Likewise, Rocket Mortgage, QuickenLoans, and loanDepot also told Kamin they’ve seen a surge in traffic as buyers turn to the internet to complete the homebuying process, from applying for loans to finalizing deals.

Millennials are also buying through Instagram

But millennials aren’t just taking to real estate and mortgage websites – they’re also house hunting on social media.

Millennials have been putting bids on fixer uppers featured in Instagram account Cheap Old Houses, which highlights historic homes that cost no more than $100,000 to buy, reported The New York Post’s Shayne Benowitz back in August. These “old houses” are typically found in smaller towns that have become enticing in the age of coronavirus and remote work.

A post shared by Cheap Old Houses ™ (@cheapoldhouses)

 

When Insider’s Libertina Brandt interviewed the Cheap Old Houses’ founder Elizabeth Finkelstein at the start of the pandemic, the Instagram account had 750,000 followers. Today, it has 1.5 million.

Finkelstein told Benowitz that the account helps make homeownership more attainable for millennials, many of whom have plenty of time on their hands during quarantine for restoration projects.

Millennials are driving the housing market

Online or not, millennials have been heating up the housing market.

More millennials bought homes last year than any other generation, according to Apartment List’s Homeownership report. The pandemic had accelerated a five-year trend in which millennial homeownership rates rose the fastest as the generation aged into the career advancement and prime homebuying stage of their 30s.

The millennial homeownership rate has climbed to 47.9% from 40% just three years ago, per the report. Families fleeing big cities for the suburbs and historically low interest rates, which made buying easier for those with enough money saved for a down payment, fueled the 2020 uptick.

As millennials turn their homebuying dreams into reality, they’re digitalizing house hunting in the process.

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Millennials led the 2020 housing boom, but it wasn’t enough to catch up to boomers

real estate agent
Millennials have finally started buying homes, but they’re still way behind other generations.

Despite fueling 2020’s boom in the housing market, millennial homeowners are still lagging behind.

More millennials bought homes last year than any other generation, according to Apartment List’s Homeownership report, as the pandemic accelerated a five-year trend in which millennial homeownership rates rose the fastest as the generation aged into the career advancement and prime homebuying stage of their 30s.

The influx of millennial homebuyers was goosed by families fleeing big cities for the suburbs and historically low interest rates, making buying easier for those with enough money saved for a down payment. Finally, homeownership had become more attainable for a generation famously behind in homebuying compared to previous generations.

But the surge isn’t enough for millennials to close the homeownership gap. 

Less than half (42%) of millennials are homeowners, per the report, compared to 48% of Gen Xers and 51% of baby boomers when they were the same age. While first-time home purchases increased from 31% to 33% in the past three years, the report said, the uptick doesn’t come close to the 50%-plus first-time buys during the pre-Great Recession “homeownership boom.”

The pandemic will likely continue to exacerbate this generational chasm, the report states, partly because it’s caused some millennials to delay homeownership or give up on homeownership entirely.

(The report looked at data from the US Census Bureau and the annual Apartment List Renter Survey, which polled 1,851 millennials.)

The millennial wealth gap makes it harder to close the generational wealth gap

Twenty-one percent of millennial survey respondents said the pandemic caused them to postpone buying a home. Of this cohort, 67% cited income loss and 21% said they had to dip into their down payment savings. And 18% of respondents plan to rent forever, with 74% of them citing affordability as the key reason. 

For over a decade, millennials have been shouldering student-loan debtsoaring living costs, and two recessions before the age of 40. This affordability crisis has made it difficult to save for a down payment, and it hasn’t helped that the demand for homes in 2020 has driven housing prices up.

The stark divide among millennials who find homeownership attainable and the peers who find it unattainable reflects the millennial wealth gap, in which one cohort of millennials is faring well and the other is struggling. As the pandemic intensifies this intragenerational gap, it’s become even harder for millennials to close the wealth divide that exists outside their generation.

That would be the vast generational wealth gap between millennials and boomers. Millennials hold four times less US wealth than boomers held at their age, per Fed data, and earn 20% less than boomers did, a report by think tank New America found.

It explains why fewer millennials own homes than their parents did at their age, and why, despite the millennial housing boom of 2020, the generation is still wrestling to make up for lost ground. 

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YIMBY with a conscience: Meet the 26-year-old real-estate heir who wants to make affordable housing a reality in the Biden era

Donahue Peebles III
Donahue Peebles III.

  • Donahue Peebles III has worked for his father’s real-estate firm, Peebles Corporation, since high school.
  • He’s passionate about gentrification, telling Insider that lack of affordable housing is “a failure of American society.”
  • Peebles talked to Insider about affordable housing, gentrification, and what he expects under a Biden presidency.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In real estate, there are NIMBYs and YIMBYs, and Donahue Peebles III knows where he stands.

For decades, “NIMBY,” which stands for “not in my backyard,” referred to homeowners who oppose nearby development. The “YIMBY,” naturally, says yes to the same proposition. To hear Donahue Peebles III tell it, more development won’t just be good for his family’s company – he’s a real-estate development heir – but also a key to civil-rights progress in the Biden era.

“As developers, we have such an outsized effect on the world in which everyday folks live, far more than an options trader would or your Wall Street executive,” Peebles told Insider. “Everybody, every day, interfaces with real estate, multiple times a day.”

Peebles works at Peebles Corporation, which was founded by his father, Donald Peebles II, in 1983 and has grown into of the nation’s largest real-estate investing and developing firms, with a portfolio topping $8 billion. The company made his father one of the richest Black real estate developers in the US, with a net worth estimated at over $700 million.

The Peebles Corporation utilizes public-private partnerships to develop properties with civic interests in mind, focused primarily on the New York, Washington DC, Miami, and Los Angeles markets. It specializes in residential, hospitality, retail, and mixed-use commercial properties. 

Peebles is his father’s chief of staff, a position he has held since early last year. He said he has no interest in separating himself from his father’s legacy, saying there is “so much value” in being allowed to help build on that. 

In an interview with Insider, Peebles spoke about the affordable housing crisis, how his company is trying to help curb the effects of gentrification, and what he’s expecting under a Biden presidency. 

Donahue Peebles III
Donahue Peebles III (L) alongside his father (R).

Peebles calls the affordable housing crisis ‘a failure of American society’

Peebles has been working for his father’s firm since his senior summer in high school. Born in Washington, DC, Peebles spent his childhood in South Florida and attended high school in New York before matriculating to Columbia University to study economics.  

“My real-estate education happened simultaneously with my regular education,” he said. “As a little kid, you always want to go to McDonald’s and get a McFlurry or go to your friends’ house early on a Saturday before basketball practice. My father would say, ‘Sure, but I need you to learn the value of this building first.'” 

To Peebles, housing affordability is one of the most pressing issues facing the US right now. “There’s no reason that somebody gainfully employed should have to be housing insecure, or struggle with finding an apartment they can comfortably afford on their full-time salary,” he said. “That’s a failure of American society.”

Read more: How full Democratic control of Washington DC could transform real estate

Part of the problem, he said, is that developers are being restricted in terms of when and where they can build new housing. He cited historic preservation in the West Village, for example, which prevents developers from knocking down existing brownstones to create more housing. 

These restrictions exist “even though they were constructed to satisfy the housing needs of a New York that’s about one stitch the size of New York City is today,” he said. “Instead of treating the symptoms, we need to begin to treat the underlying cause of the disease, which in my mind is a consequence of artificial supply constraints.” 

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told Insider that, for the most part, the organization was all for more affordable units in landmarked areas.”That can be achieved through adaptive reuse and new construction,” Berman told Insider.

But there is often a catch: “What is often proposed however is large new entirely or predominantly luxury developments which do little or nothing to address affordability issues and actually often make the situation worse, not better,” he continued. 

Meanwhile, Simeon Bankoff, executive director of NYC’s Historic Districts Council, an organization that advocates for the city’s historic and cultural neighborhoods, noted that as a developer, Peebles has a vested interest in more laxity on development. “If people who are in the business of doing real estate development didn’t have to deal with regulations, they wouldn’t.” 

Bankoff said the number of landmark properties in New York City overall is very small, the city has one of the most complex building ecosystems and construction ecosystems in America, and finally, it has a “limited amount of land. If someone wants to come in and build a high-density, residential development in a low-density zone, it’s difficult.” Doing that has nothing to do with landmark designation, Bankoff added.

Peebles Corporation is raising money for a fund to help minority entrepreneurs

Peebles, along with the corporation, has also been working to assist minority and women entrepreneurs as it seeks to help close the racial wealth gap and curb gentrification. 

He called the racial wealth gap a social failure of capitalism. Talent, he said, is thought to be distributed equally, but without opportunities, underrepresented and underutilized business owners, entrepreneurs, and firms will still struggle to grow. 

Read more: Meet one of the youngest Black entrepreneurs in tech, who just raised a seed round topping $4 million that included Alexis Ohanian

“It seems as though people who have a fair amount of economic privilege already are those who have been encouraged to become entrepreneurs and become owners,” Peebles said, adding that consumers and society will benefit more if more people with talent are provided with opportunities.

A development project isn’t like an options trade, he said, and there are so many different economic tributaries that flow from it – from the developer making money to the bank getting the land and the equity partner getting deployed capital.

The goal is to find a way to democratize access to capital and involve local businesses and long-term residents of particular neighborhoods in that neighborhood’s economic growth, he said, rather than a third party coming in from outside, attracting all the capital and renovation work. Right now, he said, the Peebles Corporation is raising an emerging developers fund that will help provide capital to women and other developers of color who seek to develop in the communities in which they live. 

And this, Peebles said, will hopefully guard, in some ways, against more gentrification. 

 “I like to say the struggle of the 19th century was emancipation,” Peebles said. “The struggle of the 20th century was enfranchisement. And the struggle with the 21st is without a doubt, economics. If we can help bridge the racial wealth gap by whatever means, I think we’re doing our society a service.”

Corporations need to give employees better safety nets, Peebles says

Peebles expressed optimism about the future of affordable housing with Joe Biden in the White House and congress under unified Democratic control.

He praised the section of the $900 billion in COVID-19 relief and $1.4 trillion stimulus package passed in December that assisted renters and made 4% the permanent minimum rate for low-income housing tax credit bonds. Peebles predicts this will help create a boom in affordable housing.

democrats win house
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Read more: How Democratic control of Washington could threaten real-estate investing

He’s also expecting a revision of a few tax policies that could have large-scale economic consequences, such as the 1031 exchange. He also hopes to see a revision in the structure of opportunity zones – designated geographic areas that have been identified as low-income subdivisions. 

Opportunity zones, he said, are like “government-funded gentrification” and they need to be structured so they can help create jobs and economic opportunities within the communities they target, rather than creating economic hubs that are pushing out existing communities. “You want a rising tide that lifts all boats,” he said. “Not a new dock.” 

The situation might be different for individual citizens, however, and Peebles said the pandemic has the potential to spark conversations around entrepreneurship as a whole. Many people realized that the job security and safety nets they had are not as secure as they once thought. 

If corporations, he said, could find ways to provide a more robust social safety net for people, it could boost innovation as it would give more people freedom to fail, which “would encourage more entrepreneurial risk-taking, which in turn would hopefully help bridge the racial wealth gap.”

He called real estate “such a challenging, creative industry,” but said he wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. “The problems we solve are at times both very immediate and practical, but also indelibly complex. It’s one of the best intellectual and social challenges.” 

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One silver lining of the pandemic: Millennials are saving more

millennial saving
The pandemic has helped some millennials boost their retirement savings.

Millennials are finally saving.

It seems the pandemic has helped some millennials sock away some money for retirement. Wells Fargo’s 2020 Annual Retirement Study, which surveyed 4,500-plus Americans ages 18 to 76, found that the pandemic left boomers and retirees more financially exposed and millennials saving more.

In fact, 18% of millennials have increased their retirement savings since the pandemic began, according to the study. It also revealed that 29% of millennials began saving for retirement at a younger age (25) than Gen X and boomers did, at ages 30 and 36, respectively. 

But that’s not the case for all millennials – 39% of millennial workers said in the survey they don’t know if they can save enough money for retirement because of the pandemic’s economic impact.

The generation has been notorious for its lack of wealth, blamed primarily on the Great Recession and its aftermath, the US’ crippling $1.6 trillion student debt burden, and a skyrocketing cost of living.

Such financial roadblocks have all made it difficult for some millennials to save. “Older millennials are often realizing they’re going to have to play catch-up with their finances if they want to ever be able to retire, but some of them have already decided that they likely will not ever be able to afford to retire,” Jason Dorsey, a consultant, researcher of millennials, and president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, previously told Business Insider.

It’s likely those who have been able to boost their retirement savings weren’t part of the millennial cohort who received pay cuts or found themselves unemployed during the pandemic. But it’s not just millennials – saving is up across the board as the US household net worth hit a record in the third quarter, up 3.2% from the second quarter. With many businesses shut down when the pandemic first hit the US in the spring, people began spending less, leaving more money to save. Having federal student loan payments paused until December 31 also likely made it easier for younger generations to stash money away.

But saving for retirement isn’t the only way the pandemic has helped some millennials financially prepare for their future. A 2020 Northwestern Mutual study that polled 2,700 Americans found that slightly over a quarter of millennials are readjusting their financial plans, more than any other generation, and that one-fifth of millennials are now creating a financial plan.

And when asked what age respondents expected to retire, millennials cited the earliest target date of all generations: 61. 

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