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Rumor has it that it’s the young whipper-snappers who are the most versatile, diverse, well-trained and adaptable future employees. These Generation Y-ers grew up with TVs in their rooms, laptops in their backpacks and a bevy of other technologies no generation before it ever had.
But a new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy finds that despite being the smallest generation (46 million compared to 70 million Y-ers), Generation X might be “the most critical generation of all” for employers.
The researchers say that “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 crucial leadership roles and starting families,” but due to circumstances outside their control, Gen X-ers are taking a different path.
In a study called “The X Factor: Tapping into the Strengths of the 33- to 46-Year-Old Generation,” researchers found women in this group are choosing not to have children because they are overworked, in debt and have different mores and views about family life than their parents did.
In fact, 43 percent of women and 32 percent of men ages 33 to 46 years old don’t have children.
“Gen X, born between 1965 and 1978, might be called the ‘wrong place, wrong time’ generation. 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,” according to a release on the study from the Center for Work-Life Policy.
The survey also found Gen X-ers work an average of nine years past retirement age. Because they’ve been in the workforce over the past 30 years and have seen the ebb and flow of business and of crises, they are crucial to businesses as we face an uncertain future.
“Most important, Xers are masters at mastering change—a skill set critical in every company today.