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How the Great Recession Changed Millennials’ Lives Forever

It's not easy to "make it" in this country on your own. Every generation has struggled to find their professional path, to gain intellectual, personal, and financial independence, and establish a life for themselves. But, there is no doubt that the latest generation to enter the workforce, the Millennials, has had an especially difficult time getting started.

It’s not easy to “make it” in this country on your own. Every generation has struggled to find their professional path, to gain intellectual, personal, and financial independence, and establish a life for themselves. But, there is no doubt that the latest generation to enter the workforce, the Millennials, has had an especially difficult time getting started.

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(Photo Credit: JefferyTurner/Flickr)

The Great Recession, which kicked into high gear in 2008, may have officially ended just a couple of years after it began, but the ripple effects continue to be felt. The impact for millennials has been pervasive, and might not be countered or reset any time soon.

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The Great Recession caused significant financial loss across the board. Trillions of dollars of wealth was lost, along with 8 million jobs, and tens of thousands of people lost their homes. More than 50 percent of adults lost a job, or saw a cut in pay or hours.

Every generation was impacted by the crisis in one way or another, but millennials experienced it in a unique way. Individuals born between 1980 and 1995, also known as the Millennials or Generation Y, were just starting out in 2008, and the recession continues to impact their lives and careers in some big ways, even five years after recovery began.

1. Living with parents.

PayScale’s report, Gen Y on the Job, showed that 24 percent of Millennials have had to move back in with their parents after starting their careers, compared to 10 percent of Gen Xers and 5 percent of Baby Boomers. Last year, even after many indicators pointed to the end of the economic crisis, 15 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds reported living at home with their parents. There are a couple of theories about why this is the case.

2. Getting married later.

One theory regarding why such a high percentage of Millennials live with their parents is that they are getting married later than other generations. Naturally, social factors contribute to the decline in marriage rates, a trend that’s been in the works for more than 40 years, but it’s likely that there are economic causes as well. Millennials might not feel like they can afford to get married and start a family. So, they live with their parents for a while to save up money first.

3. Punishing levels of student debt.

Another theory about why this generation resides with their parents at a higher rate than usual is that they are grappling with extraordinarily high amounts of student debt. The job market has improved tremendously, but those debts still need to be paid. And, it’s having a huge impact on a generation that’s just trying to get started.

4. A generation of savers is born.

Unlike baby boomers, who came up during a postwar boom and spent their formative years as spenders, Millennials, who were overprotected and indulged by their parents, were snapped out of their optimism and frightened and alerted by the Great Recession. They have turned into a generation of savers as a result. Although Millennial college grads are earning slightly more than Generation X did at the same age, they aren’t taking the same financial risks. After the real estate crash, younger workers aren’t as anxious to buy homes as the older generations were, and are opting to save instead.

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