Millennials' Wallets Are Doing Pretty Well Post-Pandemic

Young Americans under 40 watched their wealth grow by nearly 50% since 2019, per CAP
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2024 5:30 AM CDT
Millennials Saw Their Wealth Spike Post-Pandemic
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Prostock-Studio)

While all eyes remain on the US economy as we barrel toward the November election, Axios reports on a noteworthy stat out of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, finding that younger Americans are doing pretty well financially post-pandemic. To wit, the average household wealth of those under the age of 40 in the US stood at $259,000 in Q4 of 2023—a 49% spike since Q4 of 2019, before COVID hit. For the purposes of its analysis, CAP defines such "wealth" as "the value of a household's assets, including stocks, bank accounts, and real estate, minus its liabilities, such as mortgages and student loan debt."

For context, household wealth for those between the ages of 40 and 54 (much of the Gen X cohort) fell 7% during that same time period; those 55 to 69 years old saw a 4% rise, while those 70 and over notched a 15% increase. The center notes that this type of wealth growth in this particular demographic hasn't been seen since the Fed started keeping tabs on it in 1989. CAP also looked more closely at millennials, or those born between1981 and 1996, and found they doubled their wealth during this same time span. Asset gains have played a big part in the surge—average home equity rose $22,000 during the time specified—while debt not tied to housing fell by about $5,000.

Still, Axios offers a "reality check," noting that "older Americans are still far wealthier than the youngs." On that note, the New York Times reports on an ongoing "wealth shift," in which boomers are passing along their wealth to millennial heirs—"a move that has been called the largest shift of assets in history," the paper notes. But some interviewed in the story say the picture isn't as rosy as it may initially appear, as there are plenty of families who have no wealth to hand down. "Unfortunately, my mom is one paycheck away from being unable to pay for anything," a 34-year-old Florida resident says of her 67-year-old mom, who spent her whole life working menial agricultural jobs and is trying to pay down her adjustable-rate mortgage. "There's nothing to transfer." More here. (More wealth stories.)

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