6/4/2013 1:27 PM ET|
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.
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