What You Need to Know
- A new Prudential Financial survey says that younger generations are more drawn to more flexible ways of working.
- Many Americans report their main source of income is not enough to pay the bills or save for the future, Prudential says.
- The online survey also found that women are more likely to be concerned about their financial security than men are.
Younger generations of American workers are taking drastic measures to bring balance to their lives, according to Prudential Financial’s latest Pulse research survey.
The survey found that while millennials and Generation Z are attracted to more flexible ways of working, they are far likelier than Gen Xers or baby boomers to turn to gig work, go into debt or receive financial support from relatives to meet their financial goals.
Morning Consult conducted the online survey from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 among a national sample of 4,796 self-identified adults, including 477 Gen Zers, 1,458 millennials, 1,223 Gen Xers and 1,430 baby boomers. It also included 2,356 employed adults.
Demand for Job Flexibility
One-third of millennial respondents and 46% of Gen Zers reported that they have switched employers since the start of the pandemic, compared with just 29% of all workers. Younger generations are more likely than workers as a whole to say the best way to increase their earning potential is to change employers every few years.
According to the survey, younger generations look to employers for help, with 58% of Gen Zers and 57% of millennials believing that their employer has a responsibility to help them feel more financially empowered.
That said, over the past year, 29% of millennials who switched jobs said they took a pay cut, explaining that they did so to achieve a better work-life balance.
Younger workers will continue to demand flexibility in when and where to work — “hybrid is here to stay,” Prudential vice chair Robert Falzon said in a statement.
Prudential advised employers to be aware that many Americans report their main source of income is not enough to pay the bills or save for the future. Turning to gig work, going into debt, or receiving financial support from relatives to close the gap has become the norm.
Forty-nine percent of millennials and 48% of Gen Zers in the survey said they do not believe that a salary is going to be enough to achieve their financial goals.
Seven in 10 of all workers reported that they have pursued or considered pursuing gig work to supplement their income over the past year, including 81% of Gen Zers and 77% of millennials — roughly a quarter of whom hope that their gig work will one day be their full-time job.
Most workers in the survey who are considering or are pursuing gig work said they are doing so only until their main source of income can fully sustain their financial needs.
The survey results showed that younger generations feel acute challenges — and anxiety — about managing money, struggling to balance “living in the now” with saving for the long term. Absent a more proactive approach to managing their long-term financial security, their outlook is grim.
Half of millennials said they regularly run out of money and have to rely on credit cards or family for financial support, and 65% of millennials and Gen Zers have received financial support in the past two years from parents, significant others, relatives or grandparents.
Half of all respondents said they have less than $500 or no emergency savings fund. Thirty-nine percent of both millennials and Gen Zers reported having no emergency savings at all.
Fifty-five percent of millennials said debt is preventing them from accomplishing personal goals, such as owning a home and having children, while a third of both millennials and Gen Zers said student loan debt is a barrier to accomplishing those personal goals.
Nearly half of the two younger groups said they would have more funds for personal goals if they did not have to spend money on friends’ and family members’ life milestones, such as wedding and baby gifts, or milestone birthday celebrations and gifts.
Nearly 70% of millennials and Gen Zers said they did not keep a formal budget, and 44% of Gen Zers and 38% of millennials do not invest.
The survey also revealed some sobering insights around women, who are facing more precarious financial situations than men.
Four in 10 women strongly agreed that the economic environment has made them more concerned about their financial security, compared with 34% of men. Only 56% of all women, compared with 73% of men, said they had an emergency savings account.
Fifty-three percent of women said they could not afford their current lifestyle, or were eking out an existence, versus 40% of men who said the same.
More women than men reported experiencing health or mental health issues as a result of financial stress, and said they had trouble sleeping for the same reason.