Teens and young adults are increasingly worried about finances — everything from student loans and jobs to whether Social Security will exist when they retire.
About 46% of Americans between ages 14 and 23, a demographic sometimes called Generation Z, are concerned about having large student loan debt, according to a survey of 1,000 of them taken in April and May for TD Ameritrade Inc. That's an increase from 39% who were worried about this issue in a 2012 survey of people ages 13 to 22.
Not surprisingly, jobs increasingly are a concern of this group, which is one year closer to needing to find one.
About 34% said jobs and unemployment are their top economic worries, a boost from the 26% who ranked these issues at the top of their list last year.
Interestingly, their concern has increased when, in fact, the unemployment rate has fallen. Unemployment was about 7.5% in April 2013, compared to 8.1% one year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Generation Z also is worried about whether they'll be able to afford to retire — even though they have about 40 to 50 years until they qualify for Social Security benefits.
As many as 39% of young Americans are concerned they won't be able to count on Social Security when they retire, an increase from 31% in 2012.
“All these issues are being talked about more in the media and this is a generation that is connected to social- and traditional-media discussions,” said Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services for TD Ameritrade. “They are also a year older and the reality of their financial future is clearer with each passing year.”
There's an opportunity for the financial community to help ease some of this group's worries and “debunk some of their concerns,” she said.
While 83% of Gen Z respondents said they believe saving at this point in their lives is important, some of their financial knowledge is questionable.
About 44% said a savings account is the preferred way to save for retirement and only 11% of these teens and young adults think investing in the stock market is the best way to save for retirement, according to the 2013 survey.
“Savings accounts are not going to get them where they want to be at retirement,” Ms. Braxdale said.