The Great Recession wrecked Generation X
A new report finds this demographic lost nearly half its wealth between 2007 and 2010 -- and it will struggle to recoup.
Let's forget, for a moment, Gizmodo's 2-year-old, profanity-laced assertion that Gen X is older, more tired and far more indebted than it once was. All that is true. Now the Pew Charitable Trusts says the leading edge of Generation X -- folks born from 1966 to 1975 -- lost about 45% of its wealth during the Great Recession.
This is a generation that graduated amid one recession, missed out on the dot-com bubble that preceded it, missed out on the housing boom because it couldn't scrape together enough cash and was plunged headlong into yet another recession, thanks to the housing bust that followed.
Gen X has since watched what little net worth it had plummet from an average of $75,000 in 2007 to just $42,000 in 2010.
That $33,000 loss isn't nearly as much as the nearly $75,000 lost by baby boomers born just after World War II, but at least that group is still sitting on roughly $170,000 apiece, thanks to the cash it made during the dot-com and housing booms. Pew concluded that not only did Gen X lose out during the housing bubble because of its low rate of homeownership but that "Gen Xers are the least financially secure and the most likely to experience downward mobility in retirement.”
So all of that "Reality Bites"/"Singles" introspection and nihilism that were so roundly mocked after the '90s as being somewhat overdramatic for a generation that lacked "real" problems? Turns out they were totally justified.
All of that Winona Ryder/Ethan Hawke dialogue about being the first generation to do worse than their parents? Even Pew thinks they were on to something, saying "early boomers may be the last cohort on track to retire with enough savings and assets to maintain their financial security through their golden years."
Is there any consolation for a generation that still has to go rooting around its couch for spare change when it wants to go see a showing of "Before Midnight"? Just the fact that the generations that have come after it are in pretty tough shape as well.
Unemployed millennials are still waiting for baby boomers to retire -- which looks increasingly less likely -- while college graduates are the only ones seeing any job recovery after the recession but are still stuck in minimum-wage gigs.
Generation X is the last hard-working, tough, moral, and honest generation we'll see, unless things change drastically.
We may struggle from time to time, but we won't quit trying and we don't expect anyone to give us a free ride.
Adapt, adapt, adapt, and you will be just fine.
Gen X and Gen Y etc might do worse than the boomers---but I don't agree with the premise of this article. First of all, Gen X does not end in 1975. Secondly, Gen X did not miss the tech bubble. They helped create it! Gen X innovated and the Boomers looked at how they could monetize that innovation, take the money and RUN. It will be really interesting to see what happens with Web 2.0 and 3.0 now that many of the Venture Capatalists are Gen X.
We live in scary and complicated times, and sometimes we all miss the 90's. But the only way we are going to figure this out is if we educate ourselves and look beond the rhetoric. There are complicated questions that should have been asked in this article that don't fit neatly into 1000 words.
I hope somebody with an audience has the courage to ask them someday.
I think this article is off the mark by a wide margin -
Born in 1967, married in 1996 and feel great about where we are financially and where we are going. Graduated from college into a recession in 1989, paid a lot of dues in the career, MBA at night, continued buying equities throughout the recession, lived within our means, 2 income family then - now 1 income family by choice.
I remember when college grads were making more than me becuase of the tech boom, people younger than us were buying bigger houses because of the housing boom. A lot of expectations needed to be reset to reality during the recession.
I think because we never had too easy we were less likely to expect too much too soon.
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A basic income policy can actually ensure a decent standard of living for everyone.
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