In a society where success is often equated with being financially better off than the generation prior, young Americans today are way behind the pack.
For the most part, generations in America have followed a similar storyline: kids grow up to become more financially secure than their parents and grandparents before them.
But that story ended with those born between 1965 and 1981, known as Generation X.
Using charts from recent studies on generational wealth gaps by the Pew Research centre and the Urban Institute, we’ve put together a clearer picture of what’s gone wrong for Gen X.
Right before the bottom fell out, Gen Xers were on top of the world, growing their wealth by 1,049% between 2004 and 2007.
There was just one problem. The usual trend of younger generations earning more than their elders had stopped with Gen X. By 2007, when they were in their 30s and 40s, their net worth was lower than boomers' net worth at the same age.
And the recession dealt Gen X a blow they are still struggling to bounce back from. They lost nearly half their overall wealth during this time.
That's not to say boomers weren't hurt either (25 to 28% of their wealth went up in smoke). But Gen X, having been in the working world for less time, had far more to lose.
Gen X's median net worth went from $75,077 in 2007 to a paltry $41,600 three years after the recession.
And, unfortunately, they're not exactly making up for lost time. Their earnings have stagnated while older generations' have grown.
Debt is killing them, too. Gen Xers carried more than $80,000 worth of debt by 2010. On the flip side, Depression era babies had zero debt and war babies had just $15,000 to worry about.
By 2010, Gen Xer's assets were less than twice as much as their debt load, making them more likely to take on more debt as they struggled to pay for housing, student loans and car payments.
Pre-recession, Gen Xers saw massive growth in their home equity, along with every other generation. But because just two-thirds of this age group were actually homeowners, one-third of Gen Xers weren't able to benefit from the housing boom.
All in all, Gen X is not only the least financially secure age group, but because they've lost so much and gained so little over the last decade, they are likely to enter their golden years in more debt and with fewer assets than any other generation.
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