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2020s Could Be Decade Millennials Finally Get Ahead

2020-2-9

Young people now in their mid-20s to late-30s grew up during the Great Recession, the worst economic period in the United States since the 1930s. Many in this group called millennials, experienced a late entrance into the job market or accepted lower-paying jobs for which they were overqualified.

The Great Recession lasted from 2007 until 2009 but its effects were longer lasting. Now, observers say the 2020s might mean a better financial future for millennials after their difficult start.

Many millennials starting out faced high unemployment, student loan debt and an increased cost of living. These factors especially affected millennials who completed high school or college during the recession.

In this April 27, 2019, photo, millennials Andy and Stacie Proctor stand in front of their new home in Vineyard, Utah.
In this April 27, 2019, photo, millennials Andy and Stacie Proctor stand in front of their new home in Vineyard, Utah.

Jason Dorsey is president and lead millennial researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics. He told VOA that since the recession, wages in the United States have largely stayed the same. He says “so many millennials started behind where they thought they would be. And it's taken them longer to recover — if they have recovered.”

Experts also say U.S. millennials are the first generation to feel the full impact of many years of rising inequality in America.

A recent study found millennials are financially worse off than members of past generations at the same age. Since 1996, the net worth of people under 35 has dropped by more than 34 percent.

However, things could be more hopeful for these younger Americans. The average U.S. millennial is now over the age of 30 and ready to enter the wealth-gaining time of their life.

Dorsey says millennials have had a lot of time to learn about what it takes to succeed. He says members of the “boomer” generation, people aged 55 to 75, are going to increasingly leave the workforce. He says that is going to create chances for millennials to actually move up into more management-style jobs.

Millennials are at the age when Americans traditionally buy homes, start saving for the future and invest for their retirement. It also will help that many have paid down their student debt now that they have been out of college for a number of years.

Dorsey adds that many millennials may become “two-income households and that's also really helpful for many of them.” He says, “Millennials are hitting the times when they should start really saving and investing, and earning higher incomes relative to their spending.”

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Dora Mekouar reported this story for the VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in this Story

boomer – n. short for baby boomer; a member of the generation born between 1946 and 1964

impact – n. a powerful or major influence or effect

income – n. money that is earned from work, investments, business, etc

net worth – n. the excess of the value of assets over liabilities