Seniors Still Recovering from the Great Recession

The Great Recession may have officially ended in June 2009, but baby boomers and the “Greatest Generation” are still recovering, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

Members of Generation X — defined by Pew as those born between 1966 and 1980 — were hit the hardest but have seen the greatest recovery from the worldwide economic slowdown, which began in 2007 and lingered well into the early part of this decade.

For instance, Generation Xers had median home equity of $37,600 in 2010, a 43% drop from its pre-recession level in 2007 and a significantly bigger home-equity drop than boomer and Silent Generation homeowners, who suffered losses of 28% and 15%, Pew found. But home equity levels came roaring back for Gen Xers, doubling between 2010 and 2016 to reach a median of $75,000; for comparison purposes, Pew converted home equity and net worth figures to 2016 dollars across all years.

Baby boomers, meanwhile, have actually seen their median home equity levels decline from $139,000 in 2007 to $120,000 in 2016, after bottoming out in 2010 at $100,600. This carries over to overall net worth, with Gen Xers having fully recovered from the worst of the recession — while baby boomers saw their median figure decline from $224,100 in 2007 to $184,200 in 2016.

Pew pointed to several factors for these trends, though Generation X had a key advantage over their older counterparts: As younger people, they simply had more time to earn back the money they lost.

“The oldest Gen Xer was 51 as of 2016, meaning that Gen X workers are still approaching their peak earning years,” Pew senior researcher Richard Fry noted in his analysis. “The number of Gen Xers in the labor force has remained stable since 2008, whereas the boomer and Silent labor force has shrunk through retirements and death.”

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