Gen Z is worried they’ll never retire, but more save for retirement than any other generation

Retirement doesn't seem possible for a quarter of Gen Z

Gen Z struggles to see retirement as a reality. 23% believe they won't ever be able to retire.  (iStock)

Generation Z faces an uncertain financial world, and they’re well aware they likely won’t have the same benefits as generations that preceded them. Roughly one quarter (23%) of Gen Z don’t expect to ever be able to retire, according to a recent McKinsey & Company study.

This belief stems from a variety of factors, but a major reason is the current job market. Minimum wage is largely stuck at the same as it was 13 years ago and Gen Zers don’t believe the pay they get for the work they do allows them a good quality of life, the McKinsey study cites.

Additionally, while Gen Z has some of the lowest student loan debt compared to Gen X and Millennials, student loans are still a significant burden for the younger generation. Gen Zers average a little over $20,000 in loans upon graduation.

On top of heavy student loan debt and a less than perfect job outlook, Gen Z also faces a higher degree of mental health conditions. The McKinsey study shows that 55% of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed have been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness. Of these, more than a quarter say that mental health issues impact their working ability.

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Homeownership is also less of reality, according to Gen Z

Gen Z doesn’t expect to own property any time soon, with just 41% expecting to own a home one day, according to the McKinsey study.

With the housing market still sizzling, even as interest rates cool, Gen Zers see owning a home as a long shot. 52% go as far to say that they’d need to win the lottery in order to ever afford one, a Zillow study found.

Without lottery winnings, 95% of the Gen Zers Zillow polled said they would need to make serious life changes to make homeownership affordable. 28% said they would need to change their careers if they wanted to buy a home right now.

"These findings highlight the gap between Gen Z and millennials' dream of owning a home and their ability to actually make it happen," explained Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert. "Combine rising rates with record-breaking home value appreciation, and it's easy to understand why younger generations are wondering how they'll ever be able to afford a home."

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Gen Zers are ahead in saving

Despite their grim outlook on many financial milestones, Gen Z is credited with being the generation that saves the most, according to a Vanguard study.

Vanguard found that 62% of Gen Z participated in their employer-sponsored retirement plans in 2021. That’s the largest increase of any generation since the early 2000s, signaling that younger generations are more aware of the benefits of long-term saving.

"Gen Z savers, on average, have higher account balances than their predecessors, said Nilay Gandhi, a certified financial planner and senior wealth adviser at Vanguard. "[This is] in part because they are investing earlier and often and taking advantage of retirement plan benefits."

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