The Bankruptcy of Generation X
Intergenerational Recession and Poverty
For years, pundits have repeated the chant, "We're leaving our children and grandchildren in overwhelming debt." Other voices, notably pseudonyms on Internet discussion boards, berate Baby Boomers for stripping national resources bare and leaving the Generations X and Y with "nothing."
One side's argument is an organized emotional trigger for use in spurring an uprising to prevent taxation. The opposing side's argument is emotional bloviating for use in avoiding concrete issues.
I'm not sure anyone is listening anymore, because too many people are scraping to survive now, this day, and cannot look to their own futures, let alone to that of their children and grandchildren. Perhaps some of the pseudonyms need to look for work -- There is plenty of opportunity in Healthcare, Health Technologies, Allied Health Services, Engineering (including IT), Engineering Technologies, and the various segments of the Aerospace Industries, as well as some others, like Sales/Sales Representatives/Sales Supervisors. Many metro areas are hubs of numerous listings for Truck Drivers or Truck Owner-Operators.
The mentioned work opportunities include Aerospace-related Manufacturing as well, although pundits would have us believe otherwise.
The news is full of "manufacturing is in great decline" articles and union vs. management conflicts are growing continually. One side wants long-term unionized employment at high wages (some want wages that are too high) and one side wants to do away with unions (this is unreasonable).
Gen X-er's and Y's need to train for jobs that are and will become available from 2013 - 2023; specifically in the industry fields mentioned int he last paragraph. I have spoken to a host of 2013 graduates that changed majors to psychology in order to graduate more quickly - or at least to graduate, some not being able to complete engineering studies. A Bachelor's in psychology is not an end degree and offers little hope of non-minimum wage employment.
Studying for a degree that will lead to a job instead of haphazardly attending college and "getting some sort of degree in the end" is more likely to lead to well-paid careers and a lesser risk of suicide over matters of poverty and loss.
Born in year 1937 & earlier = age 65.
Retirement age increases by months every year to:
Born 1943 - 1954 = age 66.
Born in 1960 - 1969 = Age 67.
Born in 1990 - 1999 = Age 70 or older.
Born in 2000 - 2009 = Age 71 or older.
Further, the age can be raised at any time, legally, by Congress.
Longer Careers and Shorter Retirement
Some voices still claim in the 2020s that there are no jobs anywhere.
However, advertised jobs rose from a low point since 2008 of a bit over than 3,000,000 in September 2012 to 5,000,000 advertised in October, coast to coast, to over 7,000,000 advertised jobs in the USA in all of January, February, March, April and May 2013, and over 7,457,000 jobs listed on all Internet sources in June 2013 by my own tracking in workforce development. This does not account for another few thousand hidden market jobs or jobs simply not advertised anywhere online.
Unproductive squabbling aside, "scraping to survive" is particularly true of the last half of the Baby Boomers (the generation born 1945 - 1964) and more so for Generation X (born 1965 - 1984). At the same time, suicide is the third leading cause of death among the next youngest generation, Generation Y/Millennials.
Suicide may even increase among X's and Y's (quoted as anywhere from 1978-1985 to 2000-2004) as the retirement age rises and hits 75 for the Gen Ys - and it will, since the increase was planned in Congress and the Social Security Administration under the Reagan Administration in the 1980s, when Gen Y's were toddlers. I know this from access to government data connected with preventive medicine/public heath research in the mid-1990s. So, what did some of the Greatest Generation (Reagan's cohort) actually leave for the Gen Y's?
On the other hand, consider this: Baby Boomers largely did not have an easy time in education and career opportunities. For many high school gradauting classes, the men and some women went to Viet Nam war zones; while the women, some men, and minorities left in the USA struggled to find any employment at all. At the same time, college seniors graduated generally at ages 17 - 19; however, in most states until the mid-to-late 1970s, only the parents could sign up a high school graduate for college or university and apply for financial aid until the child was 25 years old.
I've spoken to hundreds of Boomers whose parents would not complete the invasive financial and educational paperwork. These Boomers were stuck. More of them joined the US Armed Servics, because you could do that by yourself at age 18. Many of the females simply tried to get married. There were a lot of divorces. Many Boomers ended up working two, three, or four part-time jobs at once. Pushing ahead 30 years, a sizable number of Baby Boomers were laid off at age 50 - 55. There is an "invisible" popuation of female homeless persons ages 50 and above, but plenty of men are in the same situation. Horribly, the same thing is happening to our Generation X-er's, the children of the Boom Generation.
Generation X and Y and Entitlement May Be Overstated
Some Successful Generation X Members
- Charlie Sheen - OMG! "Winning!"
- Brook Shields
- Halle Berry
- Dave Mathews
- Moon Unit Zappa
- Celine Dion
- Tony Hawk
- Mary Lou Retton
- Sammy Sosa
- Emmitt Smith
- Shaquille O'Neal
- Brandy Norwood
- Venus and Serena Wiliams
Some of the More Notorious X-ers
- Mike Tyson
- Marilyn Manson
- Lance Armstrong
- Monica Lewinsky
- Tiger Woods
- Britney Spears
Insulting the Generations
Probably a portion of each generation of people in America use name-calling against the previous generation. However, I think calling X a bunch of slackers does not help them to any extent, but I see it in the news. One in Detroit, actor-producer Sean H. Robertson, is almost single-handedly keeping the film industry alive in Detroit with projects funded by Kickstarter-type groups. He's progressed from scripts to web series to a new television show, plus more acting work,all while raising a daughter alone as a single parent. There are many more X-er's out there like him.
The Pew Charitable Trust looked at data collected by the Federal Reserve Board and the University of Michigan and found that Generation X lost an average of $33,000 ac in The Great Recession of 2008 - 2010. At the same time, they still have balances on their college student loans. The Pew consensus is that X lost nearly 1/2 of its net worth and will recover only half of that before full-retirement age - the Boomers lost only 25 - 28% of their net worth.
Generation X may feel like its working for nothing - when it can find work - but with examples like Sean Robertson, they can see hope. One of the reasons for Sean's success is that he seeks out others to raise to success with him. It becomes a group effort and a group success. This raises hopes, but a portion of X-er's are held back because Boomers have not yet retired and some Boomers and X-er's will probably work until death.
Impact of Recession on Boomers, X and Y
While the Boomers and Generation Y were harshly affected by The Great Recession, Generation Y has suffered the largest financial losses and will likely continue to do so, according to Pew and other research and financial analyst groups. Proceeding from this situation, some analysts feel that Generation Y will suffer even more, while other researchers feel that Gen Y has and will have the creativity, energy, and self esteem to thrive long-term.
While all of the above is proceeding, pundits of various media outlets chime continually that Generation Y will be left with a large US National Debt that they can never pay, because of taxation, "programs", and Stimulus Funding. While I see individuals in X and Y generations that show significant success in film, business, and sports; it is unclear exactly what will happen as Generation Y joins adulthood and ages.
Looking back to classroom experience concerning generations and retirement, I remember middle school on a particular day - I suggested that the US pay down the National Debt more quickly, but teachers expressed disdain. Most of them said that the debt would always increase over time and would never be paid. I hope that they were incorrect.
Considering job increases in Aerospace, Health, and other industries and the future retirement of Generation X, Generation Y should have a better chance at long-term careers and financial stability. Hopefully, they will retire before age 70.
The ME Generation Followed By the WE Generation
Opinions of the Video
What is your take on the video presented above about the WE Generation?
- Gen X lost an average of about $33,000 in recession United Press International, Business News; 2013.
- Yao, R. and Zhang, J. Employment status and financial resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, International Journal of Bank Marketing; 2023.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Patty Inglish MS