Millennials are 50% More Likely to Adopt a Pet Than to Have a Child in the Next 12 Months

Millennials are 50% More Likely to Adopt a Pet Than to Have a Child in the Next 12 Months

This age group has their life goals top of mind and want benefits that support them in their endeavors
woman adopting dog from shelter

After a year and a half of putting off major life decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials are now ready to make major headway on their goals.

The 2021 Open Enrollment Study published by financial services company MetLife found that 81% of millennial employees are expecting a major life change in the next year, such as purchasing a new home (24%), getting a pet (22%), switching careers (19%) or having a baby (15%).

However, the coronavirus crisis is still affecting millennials’ ability to save for these goals, which may explain why this generation is 50% more likely to get a pet than have a child in the next 12 months.

But as this age group begins to reassess their life goals and adjust their plans accordingly, many are looking to update their employee benefits with products and services that fit their new needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed millennials' life plans

A recent survey conducted by Northwestern Mutual found that 78% of American adults say their personal debt has hurt their long-term financial security, while others were forced to delay life events such as buying a home, getting married or having children.

MetLife's findings also indicate that the pandemic has had a significant impact on people's abilities to save for the future — and millennials especially. Nearly two-thirds of this generation (65%) reported changes to their life plans, compared to 54% of employees overall, while another 44% of millennials reported delays in reaching them.

The survey showed that some of this age group's most frequently delayed plans include:

  • Undergoing a medical procedure or treatment (39%)
  • Selling a home (34%)
  • Moving to another part of the country (31%)
  • Getting a divorce (30%)

Others took on new responsibilities over the last year and a half, as 1 in 5 millennial respondents said they became a caretaker for a dependent family member during the pandemic. With these numbers in mind, it's little surprise that over half of this group had concerns about their financial futures (compared to 45% of employees overall).

Millennials seek employee benefits that support their life goals

With so many millennials worried about how their finances may affect their long-term goals, many are turning to their employers to provide support. The MetLife survey reveals that this generation is the one most likely to expect employers to support their growing needs, such as:

  • Buying a new home (66% versus 62% of employees overall)
  • Creating a will or estate plan (76% versus 59% of employees overall)

Millennials with their life goals in mind are reexamining their benefits accordingly: MetLife discovered that 87% of millennial respondents are interested in new benefits this year, including:

  • Life insurance (39%)
  • Financial planning tools (34%)
  • Dental insurance (31%)
  • Legal plans (29%)
  • Pet insurance (20%)

A different survey from Personal Capital showed that today's employees are also interested in newer benefits like remote work — and that Gen Z and millennials are much more willing than their older counterparts to trade existing benefits for them.

With all of these changes top of mind, almost two-thirds of millennials feel that this year's open enrollment season is more important than last year — a reasonable sentiment, especially as a similar percentage of them expect to elect new benefits this time around.

Methodology: On behalf of MetLife, Rainmakers CSI conducted a representative survey in August 2021 of 1,006 full-time employees (ages 21 and older) at companies with at least two employees. An oversample of 452 millennial employees (defined as those between the ages of 26 and 40 at the time of fielding) was also included.