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Gen Z’s Experiences Will Shape Their Financial Lives

Brett Dusch


Gen Z is the first generation to come of age in the 21st century, and they’ve already experienced more than their fair share of challenges. They’ve seen firsthand the effects of global terrorism, the Great Recession, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. These experiences have shaped their view of the world and will likely have a lasting impact on their financial lives.

The COVID-19 impact
The pandemic has had a profound effect on Gen Z, both in terms of their education and their employment prospects. For many, the transition from high school to college was anything but smooth. Those fortunate enough to attend college in person had their social lives upended and were forced to adapt to a new way of learning, often either not in classrooms, or in ones with limited capacity and masking requirements. And those who chose to study online missed out on important socialization/networking opportunities, as well as the chance to learn how to efficiently maintain a work/life balance, a skill crucial for real-world success.

The pandemic has also put a damper on their job prospects. Many industries are still struggling to rebound, and competition for jobs among newly graduated candidates has gotten even more intense over the past few years. When considering all of these hurdles, plus a rate of inflation that is burning a hole in their pocketbooks, the last thing on Gen Z’s minds is to begin creating wealth or saving for their futures.

The Great Recession’s long-term effects
In addition to their current challenges, Gen Z also has the weight of history bearing down on them. The Great Recession was one of the worst economic downturns in recent memory, and its effects are still being felt. Millennials are the first generation to experience downward mobility, and research indicates they will likely earn less over the course of their lifetimes than previous generations. This trend is likely to continue for Gen Z.

The recession also profoundly affected the housing market. Homeownership rates among young adults fell sharply during the recession and have yet to recover. And with mortgage rates increasing in 2022, figures have been higher than they have in more than a decade. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to date in 2022 has been at its highest level since 2008. This has left Gen Zers hesitant to buy homes and build equity toward more secure financial futures.

Clearly, Gen Zers have faced a unique set of challenges in their young lives, challenges that will likely have a lasting impact on their financial wellbeing. They are already saddled with record levels of student debt, and they are living in an uncertain economy where a recession is a lingering threat. These experiences will shape their view of money and investing. It will be the role of financial professionals to do what we can to help them navigate these challenges successfully.

We’re here to help. For more information or to schedule a meeting, contact our advisory team at 724-934-8200; or email me at


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