Now it’s Gen Xers turn to complain

First, it was retirees and baby boomers who got hit hard as their life savings were pummeled by this recession.

Next, it was Generation Y, who found it very difficult to land jobs after graduating from high school or college.

Now, says Gen X, step aside.

The Associated Press is reporting strong rumblings of discontent from the 32- to 44-year-olds who are wedged between baby boomers and their children. They often feel like forgotten middle siblings — and increasingly restless at work as a result, AP says.

“All of a sudden, we’ve gone from being the young upstarts to being the curmudgeons,” Bruce Tulgan, a generational consultant who’s written books about various age groups, including his fellow Gen Xers, told AP.

“We were starting to buy into the system, at least to some extent,” Tulgan says, “and then we got the rug pulled out from under us.”

Sound familiar? If you’re a Gen Xer, does this sound like you? What are you feeling?

And if you’re part of another generation, what do you think?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

33 comments Add your comment


November 16th, 2009
8:17 am

I had a great job with a great company. I live conservatively yet with fun. I was on the road to paying off my small mortgage within 6 years. (I’m 39 yrs old). Then, I got laid off last January. At my new job, that I landed with in 6 weeks I took a 20% pay cut for the SAME type of work in the SAME industry. My present employer KNEW they were getting a good deal. So 2009 has bee a ‘wake-up’ year for me. 2010 will be a ‘wake-up’ year for my present employer. GenX is morphing into GenFU.

Not Likely

November 16th, 2009
8:49 am

The “I am Owed Gen X Clowns” are getting what they deserve, a size 13 shoe up the back side. Lazy bums.


November 16th, 2009
10:35 am

I am 37 years old so yes I feel this article talks to me! I can’t move up in my company as no one will retire. Our receptionist for example is 60 years old and she told me she does not even think she will be ready to retire until 70. You have a large amount of talent just in a holding pattern. We need a a good flu to take out some folks so the population will not be so old. The swine flu is taking out children so that is the wrong path. Very sad the older folks have screwed around and now will work until they die right at their jobs. Urggggggggggghh!


November 16th, 2009
10:53 am

I read this article this morning on MSNBC, and a lot of it really rang true for me. I am a 40 year old with a professional degree and have been with my employer for over 10 years. Yes, while I am appreciative of having employment and the ability to support my family, I feel a level of frustration and stagnation. This is the second recession that I have lived through, with the first being right as I was graduating from college in the early 90s. Back then, I decided to go on to professional school, even though I would have preferred to work, as there were literally no jobs whatsoever to be found. With a mortgage and a family, my responsibility level is different and more pressing. And yet, I don’t want to feel trapped in a dead end, no way out, working simply to eat gig. I think a lot of Gen Y ers are wondering “Is this all?”

No, we are not at all ungrateful, nor we feel entitled to anything. But, many of us did what society told us to do: went to school got good educations, had families, became gainfully employed, hardworking citizens. We are living within our means, and have tried to become even more frugal given the current environment. But, to look up and figure out that your options are to “be grateful you have a job and do whatever we tell you because you are easily replaceable in this market” (real quote from an employer), and accept that you may not hav an opportunity to move up or move on, is daunting and very disheartening.

It all most seems as if Gen Y ers and others are the blessed beneficiaries of the boomers’ economic party of the mid-late 1990s and 2000s.

Diane in DC

November 16th, 2009
12:47 pm

I sent this to my fellow GenXers around the country and they’ve responded with comments like “career advancement…you mean UP?” and “this is totally me. It’s a matter of moving on, but to where and to what?”

We have gotten the short end of the stick from the moment we graduated college. It’s not whining, it’s a FACT.

We believe we hold the traditional “work hard” values of our parents and have been ever hopeful that our strong work ethics and high education would help us achieve success.


We watched our parents get layed off and/or lose their pensions. We have either been layed off or know people who have. Some of us wasted money getting higher degrees in hopes of career advancement, to no avail. We don’t expect social security or medicare to take care of us.

We cringe at the generations behind us, knowing that they will have to take care of us in old age. SCARY, since they don’t seem to care about anyone but themselves and resist actually earning anything.

Jaded? HELL YEAH, wouldn’t you be?

OK, gotta get back to work now…


November 16th, 2009
1:29 pm

Ok, I am 37 and my husband is 39. We are NOT whiners. We both put ourselves through college, then with 2 babies I quit work to stay home with them at the same time my husband went back for an MBA. We’ve been through three–count ‘em, THREE recessions. The first one was when we both graduated college & it was hard to find someone that would hire you for ANYTHING. We both took entry level jobs & didn’t have much of anything to show for it as we had student loans to pay back. Still, we managed to scrape together some $ for a house. Then my husband got a decent paying job that required weekly travel so we never saw each other. Amazing I even became pregnant during that time!! Just after we had baby #2, (and I quit work!!) he was laid off from that job (this was after 9/11 and the dot com bust). We spent about three months looking & he finally found something else. HOWEVER, this company put itself out of business because all the company leaders were old fart baby boomers who wouldn’t invest in new clients…on to the next job, where he is currently. We’ve had measly 3% raises, if that, ever since. We still managed to put quite a bit in the 401K only to see that wiped out by the stock market crash of 08-09. My husband is smart, has an incredible work ethic (how many of those old fart baby boomers worked until 2am many nights!!??) and we’ve done everything “right.” It’s our time right now. He’s going to be 40 soon & is still doing the same work he’s done for the past 6 years with no end in sight. He was about to start looking for another job when the recession hit. don’t get me wrong, I know he’s lucky to even have a job but COME ON! We are soon going to have college tuition to pay for times two. Did I mention that I would love to go back to work & help out a bit? OH, but guess what. NO JOBS. And I have one last point to make: All these bright-eyed & dreamy Gen Ys that voted for the idiot they call the President are just making it worse for the rest of us. Not to mention the boomers who got us into the mess we’re in right now. Most of the Gen Xers I know are extremely motivated, hardworking people who educated themselves & are now just hanging out, waiting for our turn.

Diane in DC

November 16th, 2009
1:36 pm

Oh and one more thing: Did you know that GenX is thought to be the first generation to earn LESS than their parents did?

Lucky us!


November 16th, 2009
1:42 pm

Here it is Diane:

The US Census Bureau cites Generation X as statistically holding the highest education levels when looking at age group (bloc): US Census Bureau, in their 2009 Statistical Abstract. (Also see Education Statistics Canada, 2001 Census.)

In economics, a study (done by Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Urban Institute) challenged the notion that each generation will be better off than the one that preceded it.[10] The study, ‘Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream Alive and Well?” focuses on the income of males 30-39 in 2004 (those born April, 1964 – March, 1974) and is based on Census/BLS CPS March supplement data.[11]

The study, which was released on May 25, 2007, emphasized that in real dollars, this generation’s men made less (by 12%) than their fathers had at that same age in 1974, thus reversing a historical trend. The study also suggests that per year increases in the portion of father/son family household income generated by fathers/sons have slowed (from an average of 0.9% to 0.3%), barely keeping pace with inflation, though increases in overall father/son family household income are progressively higher each year because more women are entering the workplace, contributing to family household income.[12]

Read it & weep, GEN X. It’s a fact.

Corporate Hater

November 16th, 2009
2:55 pm

The Gen-X’ers at my company do not like the way the lazy “Affirmative Action” employees who think they are ENTITLED to a career and REFUSE to do their fair share of the work smell.

Success should be EARNED by A-L-L citizens, not given out like Halloween Candy just because of how are you look/dress when you ring the doorbell.


November 16th, 2009
3:03 pm

Corporate Hater… You missed the point. This is not about affimative action so save it. People like you always find a way to turn the tide in the wrong direction.
Yes, its time for the oldies to move out and make room for the younger talent. Many GenXers are frustrated b/c they are stuck in their present jobs. Time for some cleaning house…

Merlot winters

November 16th, 2009
3:22 pm

37 here, just shaking my head after a lifetime of living through the fallout of the “me” generation. They partied hard in college, dropped acid, drank and drove all over the place but when we reached adolescence, it was all ’say no to drugs’ and ‘don’t drink and drive’. They’re like armed robbers who get busted, find Jesus in prison, then parole out and expect everyone to behave like some fundamentalist whacko all the time, complaining about how bad desegregation was and not letting queers have any rights. Then they go and deregulate everything and then scratch their heads when the economy is run into the ground. Same old same old with the boomers.


November 16th, 2009
3:35 pm

YES!! I spent the first half of my working life working hard behind the boomers while hearing that there was going to be this great time for X-ers when the they finally retired. And now boomers are all hanging on for eternity because they didn’t save for retirement or are mortgaged up to the hilt for that house they couldn’t really afford. Plus, I now have in my office 2 20 something Y’s who are management’s pets. They are tech savvy and up for supporting any ’cause’ unless it makes them actually work. It’s all about their friends and their Facebook; work better not interfere with either. I am really tired of working hard and getting nowhere either because the jobs are already filled with 60 year olds or they are holding out for “fresh faces”. When is our time going to happen???


November 16th, 2009
3:37 pm

As a member of Gen. Y, I’m actually going to quote a Baby Boomer on these complaints, Denis Leary:

“‘My life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would’ Hey, join the ******* club! I thought I was going to be the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Sox! Life sucks, get a ******* helmet!”


November 16th, 2009
3:39 pm

Uh Corporate Hater and Diane in DC, what does affirmative action and who Generation Y voted for President have to do with the earning statistics that Kate pointed out in her post. What you have is misplaced anger…Better yet if you would like to inject politics, the emergence of Reagonomics and corporate welfare has seen the deterioration of our middle class for ALL demographics the last 30 years. I would bet my meager paycheck that there’s a direct correlation.

As a 35-year old GenXer and having an MBA, I’ve been lucky to weather the storm of our current recession. But, it involves working part-time to make 75% of what I made 4 years ago after being laid off by my previous employer. Like myself, many of my fellow GenXers will be looking for more meaningful work when the economy rebounds.


November 16th, 2009
3:46 pm

Dang! And I thought I was alone. What happened to the happy hippies? What happened to all that save the world, peace and love crap? They grew up and broke the bank, that’s what! Darned overindulged, selfish baby boomer generation who believed you could run up credit forever, bought big *ass SUVs to choke the environment, didn’t do a darn thing about all the coal-burning plants (you know those cleaners would be paid off by now), and now you complain about health care being too high, because you didn’t do anything about it the last 20 years, What happened to you guys? You’re just as stingy and selfish as your parents, that you always complained about. CAN’T TRUST ANYONE OVER 45!!!
Just remember when you guys retire, Shady Pines , Shady Pines!


November 16th, 2009
3:49 pm

No one will say it in our PC world but a huge factor that our X generation has had to deal with, and contributed to us being jaded, is the increased role (in a negative way) of human resources. More so than in previous generations our efforts are less likely to be rewarded when we are hard-working and successful if we don’t fit a certain demographic. You can call me names if you want but you can’t say that isn’t a huge contributing factor to Gen-X frustration. I know other generations had glass-ceilings and racism but today’s environment rewards ability, aptitude, and achievement much less than at any other time to create a false image of restitution or “fairness”. I have worked for company’s (and been in the room) where the person’s age, race, and sex was the very FIRST thing discussed before anything else when considering someone for promotion.


November 16th, 2009
4:00 pm

At 31, I’m either in the oldest of the GenY crowd or the last of the GenX’ers. The reason the boomers can’t understand us is that we’ve never grown up with the delusion that hard work and loyalty equals job security. Instead, we’ve seen what workaholism does to families and desire lives that have a quality balance of work and pleasure. Not to mention that many job positions remain filled by people over 55 who refuse to retire and move onto another stage in their lives, even if they qualify to do so. Many of those older workers in my office also refuse to professionally recognize co-workers the same age as their own children and they treat us as such. It’s not a lack of work ethic or some sense of slacker entitlement that has us raising our eyebrows to the workplace – it’s that the modern workplace is reticent to evolve with its labor force.

Baby Boomer

November 16th, 2009
4:09 pm

Dear GenXers:
Speaking for the baby boomers, we’ll be glad to retire and get out of your way as soon as the money-grubbing corporate billionaires restore our pensions so we don’t have to live on welfare. We aren’t the problem. Believe me I would love to retire, but can’t afford it. Use your higher education and figure out a way to fix the economy and you can have my job.


November 16th, 2009
4:16 pm

Boomer, so you failed to diversify your own investments and suddenly it’s our problem to solve? The core problem is the keep-up-with-the-Joneses attitude by which many of our parents bought too much house, too expensive a car and saved too little. Now, you all have multiple mortgages and car notes, no pensions and are going to expect us (your collective children) to help you maintain that lifestyle. I have educated friends in their late 20’s who can’t afford to move out of their parents’ homes because they can’t earn enough income to pay for a single-bedroom apartment. We can’t solve anything if we can’t get paid enough to subsist.

Miss Obvious

November 16th, 2009
4:21 pm

Delia = Affirmative Action Beneficiary

BTW, you “god” Obama is clueless in addition to being unqualified.

54 and not out to pasture

November 16th, 2009
4:26 pm

I am laughing myself silly at the whole bunch of you. We boomers bought those SUVs to haul you little snot nosed kids around to soccer, scouts, band practice and everywhere else your litte priviledged butts wanted to go. Your good educations were paid for by your hard working, hippy, tree hugging, boomer parents. Now you want us to just quit and go home so you can move up? Do you think that’s how WE got where we are? No. Wake up, kids.

I sure hope none of you ever move into the field of elder care. Any of you ever seen the movie ‘Soylent Green?”

Age 54, pecked out on my Blackberry on the bus, going home from a 12 hour work day.

Not all of us are ingrates

November 16th, 2009
4:35 pm

Hey 54 – Thank you and to all other boomers who have worked hard and continue to do so. Anyone telling you to get out so that they can take your place is ridiculous. As long as you can provide a service (and experience) that someone will pay you for no one should be telling you to step aside. BTW – “Soylent Green is people!!”


November 16th, 2009
4:43 pm

Gen Xer here – and Yes we feel sandwiched and trapped in the middle. My boomer parents need help because they didn’t manage their money properly and I am scared for what my kids are going to inherit (as in the economic mess we are in).

The corporate world would love to have the majority of their employees be Gen X – BUT the boomers can’t or won’t retire and the Gen Y crowd think they should be earning over $100K for essentially little experience and bad work ethic.

All the Gen Xers that I know are responsibible and harding working. Bad timing and irresposible behavior from the older boomer and the younger Gen Y are our problems.

Baby Boomer

November 16th, 2009
4:49 pm

Doug, you’re way off base. I also worked my way thru college and worked hard to stay employed. I’ve suffered layoffs the same as your generation. I currently drive a 10-year old car, which I bought used. I’ve did not mortgage my house to pay for the Disney World vacation my GenX kids insisted they “had to have”. They hate me for it, but it was the fiscally responsible thing to do. So don’t criticize me. I’m not the problem.

Baby Boomer

November 16th, 2009
4:50 pm

Why don’t we put the blame where it really belongs? If any of you can figure that one out, we’ll all be grateful.

Diane in DC

November 16th, 2009
4:53 pm

GenXDotCom – um, I didn’t say one thing about Affimative Action…


November 16th, 2009
8:28 pm

The ‘Game’ is rigged. Don’t trust ANYONE who tells you they have the answer. Trust your own knowledge and continue to learn, don’t take your eye off the ball.
There are so many scam artist out there today. I worry for your generation!!


November 16th, 2009
9:26 pm

Another thing..I heard today that the next big bubble to burst is what is called ‘collateralized loan obligations’ with private equity firms. Much like the ’slice and dice’ of the mortgage industry. They expect these low interest loans that the equity firms loaned to the businesses to start coming due in 2011 and 1 out of every 10 employed persons will be out of a job when these companies go belly up.

Turn out the lights

November 17th, 2009
1:27 pm

Buh-bye greedy boomers in Corporate America. And on your way out take your D.C. friends with you. The problem is your dead weight holding us back. We all know the only reason you are still here is to pad your pensions. Once you retire to Miami this country will turn the corner.

54 and not out to pasture

November 17th, 2009
4:53 pm

Do any of you even know at what age a person is eligible to retire? At my ripe old age of 54, my first eligibility is in 2 years. I’ll have 31 years of service and that same 31 years included raising 3 children while working full time. You can bet that I won’t be hanging aroung just to keep one of you from getting a promotion.I’m going on permanent vacation with my nice, fat pension that I EARNED every day of those 31 years.

And by the way, that’s considered a young retirement age – most people can’t retire until 62 and some until 65.

Or maybe we should all throw ourselves off a cliff to make room for all of you intolerant ill-informed geniuses.


November 17th, 2009
10:31 pm

Is it any wonder this Country is in this downward spiral. Talk about a spoiled generation, Gen x takes the cake. With attitudes like those above, we are only going to spiral down further. I do agree we do have some greedy corrupt corporate baby boomers, that left to their own selfish ways, have truly caused this great Country to stumble. Everyone should be working together to get this Country moving again, with Health Care FOR ALL and Jobs, JOBS, JOBS. Lets quit being Palinistic, blaming everyone but yourselves. Learn from those older than you, they have been around longer and have seen much.

IRS Tax Problems

November 21st, 2009
12:44 pm

This is the part about life nobody tells you about until it hits you smack in the face and you realize I have to take matters into my own hands. All you need is one great year in your life and you can spend the rest semi retired.

Debra King

November 21st, 2009
11:09 pm

Hey, all of you who are complaining here – I recommend that you bring up this topic at your parents’ home over Thanksgiving dinner. Should make for some lively, eye-opening conversation.