They’re self-reliant, highly educated, and fiercely independent. Don’t overlook the latchkey kids.
Full disclosure: This reporter is a member of Generation X. And if there’s one thing that’s woefully apparent, it’s that this group is the least talked about generation on the planet. Much more dazzled by the larger-in-numbers millennials and baby boomers, the media, marketers, and retailers have swept Gen Xers under the carpet. We are, indeed, America’s neglected middle child.
But should we be? A Yahoo study published in November, “Gen X: America’s Most Influential Generation,” pointed out that ignoring us is a critical error.
The reality is that there are some 81 million adults ranging in age from 34 to 49, and they are in their prime earning years. Gen Xers represent 31 percent of total income dollars, hold 29 percent of net worth dollars, and make between $67,000 and $71,000 on average per household, according to the study.
What’s more, they’ll soon be entering a phase of life without child dependents and with inherited money, which means they’ll have beaucoup discretionary income.
Denise Dahlhoff, research director at Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center and coauthor of a joint study with the NPD Group on buying behavior, says Gen Xers are currently in the middle-age phase of family and home and spend more money on necessities rather than jewelry, watches, and travel. But as they enter the empty nest phase of their lives, they will have money to burn.
More interested now?
Most define this generation as born between the mid 1960s and early ’80s. Their parents ranged from hippies to Goldwater conservatives, some didn’t enforce seat belts, and many worked, meaning their progenies were latchkey kids. Gen Xers came of age against a backdrop of Madonna, hip-hop, AIDS, the Cold War, and John Hughes movies. Later, they were branded slackers, thanks to movies like Reality Bites, a 1994 film about college graduates who flounder as they try to forge careers. The movie perfectly captured the Gen X mood: cynical, pragmatic, anti-authoritarian.