Millennials have a saving problem.
It's not that young people aren't saving anything — it's that they're actually saving a negative amount, draining their bank accounts or going deeper into debt.
According to Moody’s Analytics figures, millenials — categorized as adults under 35 — now have a savings rate of negative 2 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“[Millennials] are truly a vulnerable group,” Annamaria Lusardi, a George Washington University economist who studies financially fragile young households, told the Journal. “They don’t have assets to buffer themselves against shocks, and they also have to manage debt.”
The Project on Student Debt reported that 71 percent of college students who graduated in 2012 had student loan debt — and the average amount of that debt was $29,400.
The savings rate — the percentage of after-tax income that people stash away instead of spending — was slightly better for older cohorts than it was for millennials.
Moody's reported a savings rate of about 3 percent for those age 35 to 44, 6 percent for those 45 to 54, and 13 percent for those 55 and older.
Not long ago, in the wake of the recession, Americans under age 35 went through something of a savings boom, registering a savings rate of 5.2 percent in 2009, the Journal noted.
Those days passed quickly, and now Millennials, as a group, are spending more than they earn.
Young people's negative savings rate is part of a broader American trend to spend more and save less: As the Government Accountability Office's guide to national saving detailed, Americans' personal saving rate averaged 8.3 percent in the 1960s and peaked near 11 percent in 1982 — before tumbling to essentially zero percent in 2000.
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