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May 30, 2020, 10:09 a.m. EDT

There’s only one generation in U.S. history that’s considered to be more unlucky than the ‘Lost Generation’

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By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch


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Millennials have had some serious economic hurdles.

It’s hard out there for a millennial.

In fact, the Washington Post, citing a series of economic haymakers and the struggles that come with them, calls the group born between 1981 and 1996 “ the unluckiest generation in U.S. history .”

Yes, even unluckier than members of the “Lost Generation,” who reached adulthood near the end of World War I and were left to pick up the pieces as they entered the “Roaring Twenties.”

Here’s the chart the Post’s Andrew Van Dam used to tell the story:

“Millennials will bear these economic scars the rest of their lives, in the form of lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as homeownership,” Van Dam explained, pointing to the particularly brutal devastation the coronavirus pandemic has delivered.

“This recession steamrolled younger workers just as millennials were entering their prime working years — the oldest millennials are nearing 40 while the youngest are in their mid-20s,” he added.

By the numbers, millennial employment dropped 16% in March and April this year, which is faster than either Gen X at 12% or boomers at 13%, according to data from the Post. Such a disproportionate decline could cause millennials, currently the biggest generation in the U.S. workforce, to give the top spot back to Gen X within the next month or two.

The pain of the current recession follows the jobless recovery that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and then the 2008 Great Recession — another jobless recovery.

“The story here is not just that it’s a bad recession, and that it’s hitting young people more, but that it’s hitting people who have already been hit,” economist Gray Kimbrough told the Post.

Now, millennials find themselves on pace to become the first generation to end up poorer than their parents as they enter peak earning years in the face of a crippling pandemic.

But even before the coronavirus rocked their world, millennials were grappling with a massive wealth deficit, as you can see from this Kimbrough tweet last year:

That trend is likely to get even worse in the coming weeks and months. Unlucky, indeed.

Shawn Langlois is an editor and writer for MarketWatch in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @slangwise.

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