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There Is Growing Segregation In Millennial Wealth

A few years ago, as everyone focused incessantly on millennials’ apparent obsession with avocado toast, a team of researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis got to work investigating something much more serious: millennial wealth. They found that the typical millennial household, as of 2016, had only about $28,000 in net worth — putting them 40% behind what previous generations had in wealth at the same age (in inflation-adjusted terms). The data suggested we millennials were becoming a “lost generation,” destined to be poorer than the generations that preceded us.

Baby boomers and Gen Xers have faced their fair share of calamities — stagflation, the double-dip recession of the 1980s, disco — but millennials have had it really rough. Millennials who got college degrees exited school deep in debt and entered a job market ravaged by the Great Recession. Millennials who didn’t get college degrees found it harder to get a well-paying, blue-collar job, after trade and automation closed avenues that past generations had used to get to the middle class. We saw our child-rearing and first-home-buying years — not to mention our ability to work face-to-face — interrupted by a pandemic. And all the while we’ve slogged through an economy muddied by growing inequality, stagnation and a fading American dream.

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