Benefits

Study Finds Gen X Overlooked in Workforce

By Tara Cantore editors@plansponsor.com | September 23, 2011
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September 23, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy finds that despite being the smallest generation (46 million), Generation X might be “the most critical generation of all” for employers.  

Gen Xers are of an age (33 to 46 years old) that should put them at the prime of their lives and careers, stepping into leadership roles and starting families. However, a recent study, titled “The X Factor: Tapping into the Strengths of the 33- to 46-Year-Old Generation,” reveals that due to challenges and circumstances out of their control, Gen Xers are taking a different life path.

The study found a large number of Gen Xers are choosing notto have children. Their extreme work schedules (nearly a third of high earning Gen Xers work 60+ hours a week), strong career ambition, the current economic challenges, as well as changing mores, and life choices are all factors that contribute to their high level of childlessness compared to other generations.

Gen X, born between 1965 and 1978, might be called the “wrong place, wrong time” generation, says the Center for Work-Life Policy. They were hit by an economic triple whammy: college-related debt, multiple boom and bust cycles (including the 1987 stock market crash, occurring just as Gen X entered the work force), and the housing slump. As a result, Gen X is the first generation not to match their parents’ living standards.

While these economic woes have impacted most generations, they have hit Gen X the hardest in their work lives, the study found. Due to their own financial concerns, Boomers are not retiring and are choosing instead to work an average of nine years longer than anticipated. This delays Gen X’s career progression, resulting in their feeling stalled in their careers and dissatisfied with their rate of advancement.