Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) aren’t getting as much attention as they used to. Millennials have increasingly worked their way into the headlines, stealing the show with their confidence (some say, overconfidence), independence, and out-of-the box approach to work, life, family, and just the world in general.
(Photo Credit: CHRISTOPER DOMBRES/Flickr)
Last week, Carol Hymowitz of The Boston Globe published an article on the current state of good ole Generation X. Before we forget about this tech-savvy, cynical, highly adaptable group, let’s take a closer look at the article and see why, lately, they’ve been assigned a new label: gloomy.
1. They’ve become the forgotten middle child generation.
Generation X is relatively small. Compared with 76 million Baby Boomers ahead of them, and 66 million Millennials behind, the 55 million strong Gen X group is tiny. However, because of their current ages, 35 – 50, they make up 60 percent of the current American workforce.
Still, Gen X feels caught between a rock and a hard place in terms of their skills and even their characteristics. Their attitudes about political and social issues often fall between Boomers and Millennials, and the same is also true when it comes to technology use and adoption. For a group that used to be known as stunningly tech-savvy, the middle-ground label can be tough to swallow. Also, no one is talking about them anymore – and every generation enjoys a little attention now and then.
2. They’re stuck in the middle of two sets of circumstances.
Sure, Baby Boomers are worried about retirement, and Millennials are feeling crushed by their student-loan debt. But, Generation Xers are shouldering both issues. They are still paying off student loans, but are often also raising families (during a time when salaries have barely budged in recent years). So, Gen Xers are working hard, feeling unnoticed, and barely gaining any new ground year to year. No wonder they’re feeling a little down.
3. They’ve been working for a long while and still don’t feel at all financially secure.
According to a recent survey by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., about 40 percent of Gen Xers admit they “don’t at all feel financially secure,” and 38 percent have more debt than savings – more than any other generation. Two-thirds say they expect to have to work post traditional retirement age.
Maybe their current financial circumstances are due to their lack of planning – Gen X is known more for spending than saving – or maybe it’s because of the tough economic cycles they’ve endured during a time when many also acquired student loan debt and home mortgages. Whatever the case, Gen Xers are not in great shape financially, and they know it.
4. They don’t think they’re special.
Generation Xers don’t have inflated egos. They are the middle generation right now, and they feel like they often bridge the gap between the groups on either side.
“6 in 10 boomers and millennials think their generations are special but only one-third of Gen Xers do. You wouldn’t want to be a Gen Xer,” says Faith Popcorn, a trend consultant who advises companies on generational differences.
Maybe Generation X’s realism will help them going forward. Perhaps a middle ground approach to life, work, saving and spending, is a good tact to take. The future will tell – but, for now, maybe we can cut them a little slack if Gen X is a bit grumpier than usual. They have a lot to deal with.
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