The generation of divorced parents; latch key kids; and 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 Generation Xers (those born between 1965 and 1979) will have entered another chapter of our lives. 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 Gen Xers cause for pause.
In the August 28, 2014 issue of USA Today, business reporter Nanci Hellmich cited specifics of a report released by the nonprofit 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 number, 85 percent, believe that their chances of achieving the financial security that their parents have attained are highly unlikely.
These were just two examples provided by the report. Other findings were:
· 56% think they will need to save at least $1 million or more for retirement.
· 39% would rather put off thinking about retirement investment until they get closer to that stage of their lives.
· 54% plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire at all.
· 62% 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% of those polled are keeping their job skills current.
· 18% are networking.
· 17% are checking out the job market.
· 61% have a retirement strategy and 14% have a written plan.
· 65% admitted that the their knowledge of retirement investing is not as strong as they would like it to be.
· 35% 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 of Gen Xers need to reevaluate and get to work on. Regardless of their 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 Xers 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.)