Young Americans’ financial struggles compared to boomers revealed

America’s younger generations think they face more difficulty in their efforts to build financial wealth than their parents, who at their age could count on a more favorable economic situation in the country, according to a new Bankrate survey shared with Newsweek.

The New York-based consumer financial services company found that nearly two in five (38 percent) Gen Z-ers and millennials (aged between 18 and 43) believe that it was easier for their parents to build up wealth than it is for them now—yet another sign of the generational divide that has marked these two age cohorts in opposition to their elders. Seventeen percent think they now have it easier than their parents.

By comparison, the number of Gen X-ers and baby boomers (aged between 44 and 78) who believe their parents had it easier to build up wealth was significantly lower at 24 percent. The survey was conducted between December 18 and 20.

Shoppers on December 26, 2023, in Glendale, California. Some 38 percent of Gen Z-ers and millennials think they’ve had it worse than their parents in building financial wealth because of the economy.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

While every generation tends to think they’ve had it worse than those who came before them, there’s some truth to the complaints of millennials and Gen Z-ers.

According to recent data from Fortune, boomers (aged between 60 and 78) are currently the richest generation on the planet, with the average boomer being worth roughly between $970,000 and $1.2 million (mean net worth). Millennials, already hit by two recessions during their lifetimes—years crucial to building a career and building wealth—are on average worth between roughly $76,000 and $436,000.

Younger generations are struggling with the higher cost of living, with inflation rising significantly following the end of the pandemic, a more expensive housing market which makes buying a home unaffordable for many, and the burden of student debt loans.

Gen Z-ers and millennials are now charting their own paths to financial wealth.

The Bankrate survey shows that the younger generations are now considering alternative measures to grow their financial wealth compared to their parents’ strategies back when they were the same age, with more than one in four (28 percent) Gen Z-ers and millennials already doing so or currently thinking about it.

Many are embracing a side hustle. Roughly half of both Gen Z and millennials (53 percent and 50 percent respectively) say they’re bringing in extra income, against 40 percent of Gen X-ers and 24 percent of boomers, according to a Bankrate report released in May 2023.

A third of Gen Z and millennials (33 percent) say building their financial wealth is currently a priority for them, compared to 26 percent of Gen X and boomers.

The financial gap between the younger and older generations is bound to come to an end in the coming decades, as boomers die out. Millennials and Gen Z-ers are bound to inherit the wealth of their parents and grandparents, something that could change the U.S. political and financial landscape, according to experts, though it will mostly be white, wealthier individuals benefiting from this massive transfer of wealth.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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