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Generation shortchanged

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There's nothing to warm the heart of an aging generation more than reports of sniping, resentment and hostility between younger generations.

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Generation X, in particular, feels slighted by its place in the birth order, stuck between the baby boomers and Gen Y, the Echo Generation.

The Associated Press cites a survey that finds that the biggest gripe of 40 percent of Gen Xers about their jobs is "lack of career progress." One reason they're not getting promoted is that their elders are not retiring the way they are supposed to, and in this economy they're not going to.

And while Gen Xers are worrying about job loss, foreclosures and debt, the Gen Yers appear to be blissfully unconcerned. And Gen Xers feel employers slight them in favor of Gen Y, a feeling not without foundation. The AP cites a survey done for Deloitte consulting that "found that nearly two-thirds of executives at large companies were most concerned about losing Gen Y employees, while less than half of them had similar concerns about losing Gen Xers." Ouch.

The prevailing wisdom is that Gen Yers are the least loyal to their employers and most likely to take off for a better opportunity. But this same survey found that it was the simmering Gen Xers who are most likely to bolt when the recession ends. Only 37 percent of them plan to stay in their current jobs.

Who knows where they'll bolt to because the survey says most boomers and working senior citizens plan to stay put.

The Gen Xers are even slighted by the defining decade of their generation. There were the Roaring '20s, the Swinging '40s, the Me Decade and the Decade of Greed, but no one has come up with a name, at least one that has stuck, for the '00s, the first decade of the 21st century.

The New York Times surveyed some of the possibilities, and they weren't pleasant: the Decade of the Unthinkable; the Decade of Misplaced Anxiety, for all the things -- Y2K bugs, weapons of mass destruction -- that were supposed to go wrong but didn't; and the Decade of Disruption, for all the things that went wrong that nobody expected -- Enron, collateralized debt obligations, AAA-rated sub prime mortgages. It would be hard to quarrel with the Decade of Financial Follies.

To be fair to Gen X, now 32- to 44-year-olds, they've had rotten luck. As they entered the work force or were starting their careers, the dot-com bubble suddenly burst, followed seven years later, as they were entering the prime of their careers, by the worst recession since the Great Depression. And, thanks to two baby-boomer presidents, they're fast becoming financial wards of the Chinese.

But one day Generation X will enter the golden years, where another generation sits now, out of the arena and above the fray. And then they'll get more bad news. That generation spent all the money.

-- McFeatters writes for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail him at McFeattersD@SHNS.com.

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