PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- They've watched a generation before them build a fortune in a tech boom and lose it all. They've watched their parents deal with a housing crisis that dwindled their home equity to nothing.
They went to college and emerged with huge debts and no high-paying jobs to help work it off.
Can you blame millennials for being careful with their money? Last month, UBS Wealth Management Americas released its quarterly Investor Watch report, which labeled millennials (which it defines as people ages 21-36) as the most fiscally conservative generation since the Great Depression.
That's right, they're as frugal as folks who made a point of saving scraps of aluminum foil because they remembered not having any. The majority of millennials surveyed said that the best advice they ever got was to save money, a switch from every other generation that cherished investment advice above all other financial tips.
As a result, millennials aren't buying into the purported merits of long-term investment and market chasing. Only 12% would invest some unexpected extra income in the market, while only 28% see long-term investment as key to success. They want to achieve their goals, not hit a specific number.
"Millennials seem to be permanently scarred by the 2008 financial crisis," Emily Pachuta, head of investor insights at UBS Wealth Management Americas, said in a statement. "They have a Depression-era mindset largely because they experienced market volatility and job security issues very early in their careers, or watched their parents experience them, and it has had a significant impact on their attitudes and behaviors."
Of course it has. As of last year, nearly 300,000 U.S. workers with college degrees were earning minimum wage. Even when the U.S. economy recovered, 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the recession, or roughly 65% of those regained jobs, were of the low-wage variety, according the National Employment Law Project. That's compared with the 60% of all jobs lost during the recession that paid middle-income wages or better.