How the Great Recession Changed Americans for the Better

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You don't need to be a graduate of the London School of Economics to know "near-retirees" -- those Americans in their 50s and 60s -- were among the demographic groups hit the hardest by the Great Recession.

While the reverberations of the recession are still felt -- just check out those disappointing jobs numbers Friday -- apparently Americans nearing retirement have learned some valuable financial lessons over the past five years and are putting them to good use.

They'd better.

The New York Times says baby boomers nearing retirement age "lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes below what they made when the recovery began three years ago" -- even as their kids were entering college and their parents were entering nursing homes.

The economic downturn was a "wakeup call," according to data from Fidelity Investments, the Boston mutual fund behemoth.

In a study called Five Years Later, Fidelity says the recession triggered "both positive and permanent" personal financial behaviors among boomers, even after seeing the downturn eat into their retirement savings and curb their annual income levels.

According to the report, 47% of U.S. adult investors said they lost "significant income" due to the Great Recession. In dollar terms, Fidelity measures those financial losses at 34% of total investable assets at the lowest point of the recession.

In addition, 17% of heads of household lost their jobs, and 64% of U.S. adults said they were either "scared or confused" by the economic collapse.

But guess what?

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