As the economic crisis lengthens, The young adults in Generations X and Y are falling farther and farther behind the wealth curve. Now approaching their 30s and mid-40s, Gen Y Millennials and Gen X Slackers, respectively, are in danger of becoming the first generations that may fail to become richer than their parents, despite a lifetime of hard work.Gen X & Y

The lingering economic crisis, lack of job opportunity, loss of housing value, and onerous weight of unpaid college and credit card debt seem to have wrested the American dream from their hands, denying them the opportunities for wealth building that traditionally occur in the U.S. during the young adult years. Even if the economy and job picture improve markedly in the near future, relief may come too late for many.

According to a recent study by the Urban Institute, Americans in their late 20s to mid-40s have accumulated less wealth than their parents did at the same age. While Baby Boomers have increased their wealth by an average 76%, Generation X adults have only increased wealth by 26% and Gen Y is sinking in debt with a loss of wealth of minus 21%. Digging out won’t be easy. It may be up to the young adults of Generation X and Y to create their own wealth-building opportunities through entrepreneurial enterprises and online employment innovators like Zoondy (click here to see how Zoondy works).

“Young people are falling behind,” Caroline Ratcliffe told the Dayton Daily News. Ratcliffe is a fellow at the Urban Institute and one of the authors of Lost Generations? Wealth Building among Young Americans. “Across different generations and ages, what we tend to see in this country is that each generation is better off and wealthier. That fact that this group is falling behind is very different,” Ratcliffe said.

The issue has an impact that stretches beyond the financial strain it is putting on younger generations. If young adults are unable to amass adequate savings and investments during their working lifetimes, they will be less able to support themselves during their retirement years, shifting the burden to the whole of American society.