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By Brad Tuttle
September 9, 2021
Different Generations Looking At Bills
Money; Getty Images

Generation X is often overlooked in the debates comparing baby boomers and the younger millennials and Gen Z.

Here's one way that Gen X stands out, though it's probably not for the reason this neglected bunch would like: By most measures, the so-called slackers who came of age in the 1980s currently have significantly more debt than their older and younger counterparts.

According to the new "State of Credit 2021" report from Experian, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Gen Xers have the highest credit card debt and highest levels of mortgage and non-mortgage debt of any generation, on average.

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Average credit card debt, by generation

• Gen Z (ages 16 to 24): $2,312
• Gen Y (millennials, 25 to 40): $4,569
• Gen X (41 to 56): $7,236
• Boomers (57 to 75): $6,230
• Silent Generation (76 and up): $3,821
• U.S. average: $5,525

Average mortgage debt, by generation

• Gen Z: $192,276
• Gen Y: $255,527
• Gen X: $259,100
• Boomers: $198,203
• Silent Generation: $163,254
• U.S. average: $229,242

Average non-mortgage debt, by generation

• Gen Z: $12,524
• Gen Y: $28,317
• Gen X: $32,898
• Boomers: $24,136
• Silent Generation: $11,725
• U.S. average: $25,112

Members of Gen X are 41 to 56 years old now. That means they're in peak earning years for a standard career. Even so, it's understandable why they'd have more debt than other generations.

Gen Xers are likely to be simultaneously paying for college for their kids and paying off their own student loans, while making mortgage payments (perhaps even on a vacation home), and possibly also helping their parents make ends meet as they get older. What's more, Gen X has constituted the largest share of new vehicle buyers during the spike in demand for cars over the past 18 months or so, Experian noted recently.

In other words, many members of this sandwich generation are living through the most expensive years of their lives. So it makes sense why they'd have plenty of debt.

The good news is that average credit card debt is down compared to pre-pandemic times for all generations, including Gen X. Overall, the average bank-issued credit card debt in 2021 is $5,525, a nearly $1,000 drop compared to 2019, when it was $6,494. For Gen X, the average card debt decreased from $8,365 in 2019 to $7,236 in 2021.

On the other hand, mortgage debt is up across the board. The average U.S. mortgage debt rose from $210,263 in 2019 to $229,242 in 2021, while for Gen X the figures increased from $240,053 to $259,100. Guess that's to be expected given the red-hot state of the real estate market, with median home sales prices up $40,000 to $50,000 in the past year alone.

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