Generation X, the group between the boomers and the millennials, has been largely cast aside in the media and marketing world, victims of their generation’s small size and lack of identity. In contrast to the much-discussed boomers and millennials, few have recognized the critical importance of this group to the future of politics, economics, technology and business.
Gen Xers — defined as aged between 35 and 49 in 2015 — matter because they will be the generation that will run our companies and governments as the boomers, albeit slowly, fade from their long-standing dominance. As millennials struggle to “launch,” the Xers are the group that will be critical to local housing markets, tech development and, perhaps most important, the creation of the next generation of children.
Far more entrepreneurial than their millennial successors, they also will have the money to shape the economy. An analysis by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services finds that they hold 14 percent of the nation’s wealth, compared to just 4 percent for millennials and 50 percent for the boomers. But by 2030, as the boomers finally start to fade from the picture, Xers increasingly will vie with boomers, accounting for 31 percent of the nation’s wealth, twice the percentage for the millennials.
Southern California’s Xer challenge
Southern California needs to focus more on Xers. Unlike the millennials, whose share has been dropping below national norms, our region still retains a higher percentage of Xers than the rest of the country. Yet, their population is being eroded by factors such as high housing prices and weak high-end job creation.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, was published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.
OK Soda photo by Derek Bruff via Flickr.