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​Millennials: Free food at work, but no health care

The millennials might be an actual Pepsi generation.

This group of workers is more likely to get free food and snacks from their employers than they are to receive health care, dental coverage or retirement plans, according to a new survey from recruiting-software company Jobvite. About 35 percent of millennials receive free meals and snacks at work, but only 29 percent have medical coverage and just 22 percent have dental insurance, the survey found.

While Americans still largely rely on their employers to provide health care, millennials may be on the outs when it comes to workplace benefits simply because of where they are in their careers. Younger workers may be more likely to juggle part-time jobs, which might not provide benefits, for instance.

Study: Millennials say cereal is too inconvenient to eat 01:06

Still, alarm is warranted, given that roughly only one out of five millennials has a 401(k) offered through their employer. That could lead to problems down the road, such as insufficient retirement funds, as the generation ages.

"I'm staggered at this," said Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at Jobvite. "Meals and snacks is a public thing -- it's very social. A lot of companies do it because it's easy, and it's always been like, 'Oh here's a nice thing to do for your employee population.' But the fact that the medical coverage was so much lower shocked me."

Perhaps millennials are distracted enough by a free bag of Doritos to ignore the empty slot in their wallets where their health insurance cards should be tucked away. But another issue could be a factor: the introduction of Obamacare.

That's something Bitte said occurred to her, although the survey didn't ask respondents if they were receiving health care from another source, such as the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges or Medicaid. The ACA doesn't require employers with fewer than 50 workers to provide health care, so some may be shifting away from offering medical coverage.

Rest assured, Americans of all ages are more likely to have health insurance than free noshes. When you go beyond only millennials, about 43 percent of those polled by Jobvite said they have medical coverage through their employers, compared with 20 percent who say they receive free food.

However, Americans are working in different ways than they were even a decade ago, the survey suggests. One emerging trend is the popularization of gig-economy jobs: Jobvite found that 19 percent of workers are relying on a gig-type job to make money.

"I call it the growing gig sector," Bitte said.

While many might think it's the 20-somethings who are most likely to use Airbnb to rent out a room or drive for Uber, the survey found it's the 30-somethings who are the most likely to hold a gig-type of job.

"In your 20s, maybe you are figuring out where you are living. Then in your thirties, you think, 'huh, I can rent out my apartment,'" she said. "People are starting to explore flexibility of having a gig job."

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