In January 2015, Generation X'ers, yes indeed, (those of us born between 1965-1979), the generation of Americans known as latch key kids, consumers of pop rocks ( a quirky type of candy that was on the market during the late 1970s,) rabid viewers of Super-friends cartoons and schoolhouse rock on Saturday mornings during our youth and eventually gravitated to watching Saved By The Bell, 90210, Melrose Place (the original series) The Cosby Show, Family Ties, A Different World, Friends, Ally McBeal, MTV, BET, as well as listening to Run DMC, NWA, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Smiths, C& C Music Factory, Soul to Soul and other rap, R&B, grunge and other alternative rock groups.
The generation of divorced parents, (many, not all of us), latch key kids, victims of fluctuations in the nations' economy, sporadic international crisis, deadly sexually transmitted diseases and other significant milestones will turn 50 years old next year! That's correct, the oldest X'ers will have entered another chapter of their lives and reached the half century mark. While this is certainly a milestone that every other preceding generation has experienced, there is also a certain level of apprehension about the future of the economy that is giving many of Gen X'ers cause for pause.
In the August 28, 2014 issue of USA Today, business reporter Nanci Hellmich cited specifics of a report released by the non-profit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies that found 83 percent are concerned that Social Security will not be available when it is time for them to retire. An even greater percentage 85 percent believe that their chances of achieving the financial security that their parents have attained is highly unlikely. These were just two examples provided by the report. Other findings were:
56 percent think they will need to save at least $1 million or more for retirement.
39 percent would rather put off thinking about retirement investment until they get closer to that stage of their lives.
54 percent plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire at all
62 percent would like to ease into retirement by staying employed but work fewer hours in a more flexible and less demanding environment.
Other findings were:
44 percent of those polled are keeping their job skills current
18 percent are networking
17 percent are checking out the job market
61 percent have a retirement strategy and 14 percent have a written plan
65 percent admitted that the their knowledge of retirement investing is not as strong as they would like it to be
35 percent investing for retirement are using a financial investor
These results were interesting to say these least. The keeping up-to-date statistic was particularly notable. This is something that a segment Gen X'ers need to reevaluate and get to work on. Regardless of the profession, it is crucial for any person, regardless of age to be able to acclimate to the ever changing dynamics of the workplace. Obviously, no one size fits all and Generation X'ers like Baby Boomers, millennials, and other age demographics vary in their interests, values, conscientiousness and level of success. That being said, it does seem imperative that a demographic of the population (Generation X) who have routinely been marginalized, overlooked and often seen as the supposedly wayward cousins or redheaded stepchildren that some relatives tolerate, but do not fully accept, make a diligent effort to look out for its own future financial security.
Elwood Watson is a professor of History, African American Studies and Gender Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the co-author of the forthcoming Beginning A Career in Academia: A Graduate Guide for Students of Color. Routledge Press (2014)