Gen Xers are the least financially secure and the most likely to experience downward mobility in retirement of four other generational groups, according to a PEW Charitable Trusts report.

“The data reveals that the two youngest groups [we] studied, late boomers and Gen Xers, are on shaky financial ground, with Gen Xers in undoubtedly the worst shape,” said Diana Elliott, a manager at Pew Charitable Trusts. “Gen Xers have high debt relative to assets, lower rates of home ownership and the lowest predicted replacement rates.

Over the last 20 years, depression and war babies have been shedding debt, while boomers and Gen Xers have been accumulating it, according to the report.

Pew explored retirement security and the recession’s impact on wealth for five age groups: depression babies -- born between 1926 and 1935; war babies -- born between 1936 and 1945; early boomers -- born between 1946 and 1955; late boomers -- born between 1956 and 1965; and Gen Xers -- born between 1966 and 1975.

“Early boomers appear to be in the best financial shape,” said Elliott. “Their wealth, financial net worth and home equity puts them ahead of where depression and war babies were at the same ages. Even after the recession, they are well prepared for retirement.”

Unlike the generations that preceded them, neither Gen Xers nor late boomers were on track to exceed their financial position. Gen Xers lagged late boomers and late boomers lagged early boomers.

During the recession, Gen Xers lost nearly half (45%) of their wealth. That's the highest loss for any of the age groups, the report found. “This all means that Gen Xers may be the first group to fall short of the age groups that came before them and face downward mobility in retirement,” said Elliott. “Only half of Gen Xers are projected to have enough savings or wealth to cover half of their income in retirement,” she added.

The report points to a lack of savings and wealth accumulation among Gen Xers before the economic downturn. It says particular attention should be paid to helping this generation prepare for retirement security.