Many young millennials have lower work experience and limited skill set when compared to older generations. This makes the job market undervalue them which forces them to agree to low paying jobs. 

Moreover, most millennials have insufficient emergency funds which make their cushion thinner relative to older people in times of recession.  

During the last global recession after GFC, this is why millennials were affected particularly harder than older generations. As they did not have sufficient funds to survive job cuts for long periods. 

When a recession hits, millennials have a higher chance of getting fired. As we all know typically the top management is filled with older people and they are ones who fire employees. 

The next one might get even worse. It will stall their careers and eat their wages as they enter their prime earning age. Moreover, this lower pay will hamper long-term wealth.  

A global recession is not a matter of if but rather when. And when the global economy sputters, millennials will be screwed

But first, let’s understand the effects of the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008 on millennials at that time & the current economic outlook for millennials. We will discuss 5 things that you should start doing immediately to safeguard yourself from the upcoming recession.   

Effects of GFC on millennials 

After the 2008 GFC, even the best employees were jobless for months. Unfortunately, older millennials entered the worst job market in 80 years. (Lowrey, 2019)  This not only meant unemployment for most but also lower earnings for those who were lucky enough to find employment. 

Moreover, tighter money supply, increased income inequality coupled with lower earnings have been holding back wealth creation for millennials in many countries including India. (Credit Suisse, 2017

As of 2014, the real average income (inflation-adjusted) of millennials was lower by 10% as compared to baby boomers at comparable ages. (Kurz, Li, & Vine, 2018) This clearly indicates that millennials are at a disadvantage with respect to earnings.  

73% of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1% of India. (Oxfam, 2018) This indicates only one thing that Indian millennials face high-income inequality. 

Additionally, the rebound from the last recession has been fruitful only for the rich. Recessions are a hard situation but recovery periods in the past also have not been good enough for millennials. 

Current Economic Outlook for Millennials 

On 6th Feb 2020, the Reserve Bank of India released the findings for the January 2020 Consumer Confidence Survey. 

In the survey, it is stated that the current general economic situation, price levels, and household income remained weak when compared to the position a year ago. (Reserve Bank of India, 2020)

In Table 1. below, a summary of consumer confidence is provided by RBI: 

Table 1: Consumer Confidence Survey Summary

Consumer Confidence Map

Source: The Consumer Confidence Survey, Reserve Bank of India (Reserve Bank of India, 2020)

In the Table above, the current perception and one year ahead expectation about the economic situation is deteriorating. Moreover, the current perception of employment and income share a negative sentiment among the respondents. 

There is a growing negative sentiment among consumers about the economic outlook.

5 Things you can do to be ready 

  1. Your Emergency Fund should be full.   In times of distress, having a cushion is important. 
  2. Cut your Overhead costs for now.  Keep your big-ticket expenses like mobile phones, shoes, clothes in check. You can use these hacks to help with cutting costs. 
  3. Pay-0ff High-interest rate debt. High-interest loans can be fatal in recessions. Pay it off before the bloodbath starts. 
  4. Upskill yourself to become the office rockstar.  When recessions come, large scale lay-offs start. To ensure that you are not the one to get fired, improve your skills. 
  5. Buy stocks at a discount. After the recession hits, stock prices will fall. This is the time to buy good stocks at cheap prices. SIPs provide Rupee-cost advantage. So, you actually reduce the overall impact of volatility on the portfolio.

In recessions, investing might seem counterintuitive. But perfecting market timing is next to impossible. Hence, SIPs can provide you with some added benefit relative to lump-sum investing.

Conclusion 

In the economic sphere, millennials appear to have paid a price for coming of age during the Great Recession in 2008. (Kurz, Li, & Vine, 2018) And as similar conditions that occur before recessions are building, millennials are at danger.  

Most millennials are already not saving and investing enough because of lower earnings. Whenever the next recession comes, it is more likely that the millennial earnings disadvantage will worsen. 

As a result, Millennials will have greater difficulty in creating wealth in the future. So, do not take your job for granted. 

The next downturn might be right around the corner waiting for all of us. Now, it is up to you to be prepared for it when the time comes.


Bibliography

Lowrey, A. (2019, August 26). The Next Recession Will Destroy Millennials. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/millennials-are-screwed-recession/596728/

Kurz, C., Li, G., & Vine, D. J. (2018, November ). Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS). Retrieved from BOARD OF GOVERNORS of the FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM: https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/feds/are-millennials-different.htm

Oxfam. (2018). India: extreme inequality in numbers. Retrieved from Oxfam International: https://www.oxfam.org/en/india-extreme-inequality-numbers

Credit Suisse. (2017, November). Global Wealth Report 2017. Retrieved from https://www.credit-suisse.com/media/assets/corporate/docs/about-us/research/publications/global-wealth-report-2017-en.pdf

Reserve Bank of India. (2020, February 06). CONSUMER CONFIDENCE SURVEY. Retrieved from Reserve Bank of India: https://m.rbi.org.in/Scripts/QuarterlyPublications.aspx?head=Consumer%20Confidence%20Survey

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