The Pessimism of Generation X

America had high hopes for Generation X. After all, they got a much cooler name than the precious “Baby Boomer” or the marketing-speak “Millennial.” So why are the Xers so pessimistic?

According to a new survey from FICO, only 32 percent of Gen X say they are confident they will reach their long-term financial goals.

41 percent of the ‘sandwich generation’ (aged 38-52) say they need to save more for the future, and 26 percent of Gen X say they are concerned about the amount of debt they have.

“Generation X are clearly concerned about what the future might hold,” said Tim Van Tassel, vice president of FICO’s credit lifecycle business line. “The survey confirms genuine anxiety about debt and saving levels in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. The ‘sandwich generation’ is often financially overwhelmed by the competing obligations of having to care for both kids and aging parents. This obstacle to saving means they have a real concern about a potential retirement income shortfall.”

This was borne out by the survey, where Generation X were the least confident of reaching long-term financial goals (32 percent); this was a stark contrast to older Millennials (45 percent), younger Millennials (46 percent) or even Boomers (36 percent), who were more hopeful.

However, against this reality, there has been a shift in attitudes from a year ago for Gen X. Only 18 percent say they are interested in getting assistance to help manage debt, down from 24 percent in the last survey.

But There’s Hope

FICO’s own analysis of the FICO Score for Generation X shows quite a few are determined to improve their financial standing.

Over the last year, as the US economy has continued to improve, 29 percent of Gen Xers have increased their FICO Score by 20 points or more. This is almost 10 percent more than the total population.

“A core group of Gen X are paying down debt and improving their position,” said Van Tassel. “However this is a struggle for many people in this group. Numerous people in the survey said they were struggling with a drop in real income levels along with high credit card debt.”

This is a problem for many Americans these days. It seems to have hit the Gen Xrs particularly hard since they – as a group — were just getting into the prime of their careers when the financial crisis hit. Many lost financial continuity during the recession. Now they are faced with sluggish income growth.

The only fix for these problems is a robust economy. Let’s all hope for that.

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