Few people have been through as many economic ups and downs as the members of Generation X. Born between 1965 and 1980, many entered the workforce during the boom years of the Clinton administration but then along came 9/11 and a few other tragedies that effected our economy.
The Generation X grew up in emerging technology and political and institutional incompetence. Watergate, Three Mile Island, Bhopal, the Iranian hostage crisis, Iran-Contra and the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal mark the emergence of this generation. Mimeograph machines turned into high-speed copiers, faxes plodded from 30 minutes a page to seconds, and heavy adding machines were replaced with handheld calculators. Whereas computers were the size of whole buildings for the Traditional Generation and whole rooms for Baby Boomers, the computer now became a desktop appliance.
Generation X spent less time with their parents than previous generations of children had. First recognized as latchkey kids, this generation found themselves home alone and taking care of themselves and their siblings, while their parents worked. Divorce was common. They were not coddled for every emotional need and want. Generation X learned that their parents were human and fallible and often found themselves treating their parents like older friends. Autonomy and self-reliance, rather than respect for authority, was a natural byproduct of the Generation X childhood.
Generation X learned independence early in life and turned it into a valuable hallmark as they progressed in the working world. Just as they hit the workforce to make their own mark in the world, the economic decline at the end of the 1980’s. Suddenly the future looked congested. Competition for jobs was tight. The American dream had changed. For the first time in history, this generation was being told that they would not be able to replicate the lifestyles of their Baby Boomer cousins and parents. Ungraciously dubbed the “boomerang generation,” many Gen X were forced to move back in with parents while in their 20s.
Generation X, commonly abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the Western Post–World War II baby boomers. Demographers, historians, and commentators use beginning birth dates ranging from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.