Many Gen Xers have yet to recover from the Great Recession, and the pandemic didn’t help the unstable financial health of this cohort. Gen Xers have been pushed to adjust their bill payment methods, retirement plans, shopping habits, and work structure amid the digital transformation and financial strain brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gen X financial health
While the average household income for Generation X reached $106,173 pretax in 2019, their share of total household wealth is barely half of that held by baby boomers.
One survey by Bankrate showed that as of November 2020, more than half of Xers in the US had lost at least some household income due to the pandemic. US Census Bureau data from December of the same year showed nearly 13 million finding it “very difficult” to pay bills.
In April polling of working US adults, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found 13% of Xers (ages 42 to 55) had suffered pandemic-related layoffs, 18% reported salary cuts, and 29% had seen work hours reduced.
The financial burden ignited by the pandemic has made it extremely difficult for some Xers to retire, or even consider retiring anytime soon.
Gen X remote work
With no sign of retirement in sight, Gen X has had to adapt to a completely digital, remote-work atmosphere. Remote work has continued to be a mixed bag as the pandemic persists—with some Xers indicating that video conferencing and new digital tools were making it hard for them to get work done.
Despite the shortcomings of working remotely, Xers aren’t all in a rush to return to the workplace. In November and December of 2020, CivicScience asked workers how soon they’d feel comfortable going back to the office—and among 35-to-54s, 22% said six months or more.
Gen X spending habits
Xers became more digital in their shopping during the pandemic. And at least some of this is likely to stick post-pandemic—including digital grocery shopping, where Xers had lagged in adoption pre-pandemic.
Acosta polling conducted in September and October of 2020 found about two-thirds of Xers (ages 40 to 55) “comfortable” using digital tools for grocery shopping. That suggests this cohort’s usage of online grocery shopping is likely to outlive the pandemic.
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In this report, we assess US Gen Xers’ financial standings and how they’ve been affected by the pandemic. We look at their shifting shopping behavior in a time of social distancing and examine the media usage of a cohort that’s digitally conversant but not digitally native.
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