The Lucky Ones: Every Worker Deserves On-Demand Pay

The Washington Post calls millennials the “unluckiest generation.”

The Washington Post calls millennials the “unluckiest generation.”[1]

And why wouldn’t they, as the average millennial has experienced the slowest economic growth since entering the workforce compared to any other generation in US history.

As the leading provider in Earned Wage Access (EWA), PayActiv aims to reverse this unlucky narrative by enabling millennial workers to have immediate access to their earned yet unpaid wages.

Why is on-demand pay so important now?

This latest recession, triggered by the coronavirus, hits millennials in their prime working years (the oldest being in their forties, the youngest mid- to late twenties). In March and April, millennial employment plunged by 16 percent, compared to Gen X (12 percent) and baby boomers (13 percent).[2]

Just think about it: all that hard work of a decade or better—plowing steadily ahead, rebuilding the economy—has simply vanished.

But COVID-19 can’t be blamed for everything, as millennials have been struggling to increase their economic earnings in the labor force since the Great Recession.

According to a 2019 working paper, Census Bureau economist Kevin Rinz calculated that the average millennial lost about 13 percent of their earnings between 2005 and 2017.[3] Rinz also reported that Gen Xs only lost 9 percent and baby boomers 7 percent. By the end of the recession, baby boomers recovered their earnings, but millennials remained “well below where they should have been.”[4]

This slow economic growth can be explained quite simply: if a millennial enters the workforce in the middle of the recession, they work lower-paying jobs, which carries forward in their lifelong careers, impacting their income, their wealth, and their ability to save for lifetime goals (like a down payment on a house).

And even though they are getting married later, having children later, and spending the same as other generations, and over half (52 percent) are saving for retirement by age thirty-four, millennials are still unable to meet these milestones and report no housing net worth.[5]

“The story here is not just that it’s a bad recession, and that it’s hitting young people more, but that it’s hitting people who have already been hit,” said Gray Kimbrough, an economist at American University.[6] 

Just as millennials crawl out of the Great Recession and stand reasonably on their feet, they are hit with a tsunami such as COVID-19. Another economic recession. Another damaging period of time in which they cannot catch a break.

Unlucky, indeed.

Down but Not Out

Though luck is against them, millennials have proven themselves to be a generation of changemakers.

In a ten-year study analyzing how millennials interact with causes, the Case Foundation reports that this generation of eighty million were passionate about issues, not institutions. Truly, 90 percent said they would stop giving to an organization if they began to distrust it.[7] Millennials favor organizations, businesses, and institutions whose actions are consistent with their values.

This study also found that millennials believe all actions matter—big and small—and care deeply about social issues, such as discrimination, health care, education, employment, and community.

With this kind of commitment to change and advocacy, millennials are looking for employers and organizations that can support empathetic initiatives for a greater change, a better world.

PayActiv meets millennials there.

Backed by the mission of “Security Dignity Savings,” PayActiv understands that making an impact comes one step at a time, one worker at a time. Partnering with employers across the nation, PayActiv enables over two million workers with access to their already earned yet unpaid wages.

As an award-winning financial wellness platform, PayActiv provides users with other benefits, such as access to Uber, Amazon shopping, prescription discounts, budgeting and savings tools, and financial counseling.

Employers that offer PayActiv are making a statement to workers. You and the work you do matters, not simply because we say so, but because our actions consistently align with our brand values.

PayActiv believes that on-demand pay is not a privilege but a right of the worker.

Employees deserve to be treated well, which means having their employers acknowledge that timing of pay matters. Workers who have already earned their wages should be able to access them, especially in an economic recession. More than that, every worker should feel respected and seen for their contributions at work.

They deserve to be “the lucky ones.”


[1] Andrew Van Dam, “The Unluckiest Generation in U.S. History,” Washington Post, June 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/27/millennial-recession-covid/.

[2] Van Dam, “The Unluckiest Generation in U.S. History.”

[3] Kevin Rinz, “Did Timing Matter? Life Cycle Differences in Effects of Exposure

to the Great Recession,” Center for Economic Studies US Census Bureau, September 8, 2019, https://kevinrinz.github.io/recession.pdf.

[4] Van Dam, “The Unluckiest Generation in U.S. History.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Peter Economy, “A New Study of 150,000 Millennials Reveals They Have 10 Surprising Things in Common,” Inc., July 27, 2019, https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/a-new-study-of-150000-millennials-revealed-that-they-have-these-10-surprising-things-in-common.html.

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Access is more than a paycheck.
It's peace of mind.

Access is more than a paycheck. It's peace of mind.

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