Despite Financial Gains During COVID-19, the American Dream Remains Elusive

Mix of Good and Bad

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in 2020, US millennials have seen their collective wealth double. The Federal Reserve says millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, accounted for a combined $9.13 trillion at the end of last year. Looking at the same category in 2019, the number was $4.55 trillion.

Analysts note that millennials still lag behind older generations. Baby boomers, for example, are nearly eight times as wealthy. Gen X saw its combined worth climb by 65% during the pandemic. Plus, millennials aren’t out of the woods just yet. Home prices are soaring, inflation is rampant, rents remain sky-high, and mortgage rates are on the rise. Some economists warn stagflation could deal millennials a crushing blow in the years to come.

Searching for American Dream

While the generation’s wealth grew overall throughout the pandemic, 45% of millennials worry they will never reach their financial goals, according to a survey from Morning Consult. An even higher number said the American Dream is dead.

This could have something to do with retirement planning. A survey from Fidelity Investments shows 55% of millennials stopped saving for retirement during the pandemic. The same poll found 43% will have less in emergency savings this year, when compared to the pre-pandemic period.

How People Are Responding

In many ways, millennials are poised for success over the long run. The generation is considered the most educated in human history, and the information age makes financial information easier to access than at any earlier point. Still, many are clearly struggling financially.

One trend that appears to be at least partially linked to this dissatisfaction is what economists have called the “Great Resignation.” Upward of 4.5 million Americans quit jobs amid the pandemic in search of greener pastures. Employers have raised wages and started offering better benefits, which is a broad boost to millennials’ finances. Still, whether it’s a mix of perception or reality, the age group sometimes referred to as the “unluckiest generation” seems to be stressing its money situation.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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