The Pew Research Center recently published an article focused on how Millennials have now passed Boomers and Gen X in the workforce. I was born in 1966, so I am a Gen X-er, who has always felt quite stuck between these two groups.
If you look at the chart from Pew that I copied above, Gen X only had its day in the sun for a couple of years. Boomers have been retiring now for quite a few years. You can see that in the downward slope of the gold line. They were the largest generational group in the workforce for many years. As they started to dip, the Millennial generation shot forward, taking the top spot with incredible speed.
For a long time, I thought being a Gen X-er would be a good thing. The massive Boomer cohort would go off and retire, creating a vacumn of opportunity for Gen X-ers in our late 40s and 50s. Those are peak earning years, so the upside would be tremendous. I didn’t sense that the next generation would be so huge – rivaling the post-war Boomers in numbers.
Opportunity for Gen X may still play out. I see a generational shift certainly happening at my MegaCorp right now between all 3 of these generations. Many Boomers want to hang on to their leadership roles, Gen X-ers are looking to move into senior management, and Millennials are building their careers and moving into middle-management.
It makes for an interesting time in terms of the different work styles in the office.
You’ll notice that while the Boomers have been retiring for a while, the Gen X line in the graph is just starting to wane. I’ll help lead that trend next year when I retire at 49 years old. I will be at the leading edge of that line’s descent.
Where are you – with the pack? Ahead of it? Close behind?