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Wipe Out: Gen X Net Worth Drops 40 Percent

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Median income for Gen Xers drops 44 percent, 2001 to 2012 | Photo by Jennifer – All Rights Reserved

Between 2001 and 2010, the median wealth for Generation X dropped 44 percent from $95,100 to $42,100.

Source: Federal Reserve Bulletin, June 2012

You can’t make this stuff up, friends. It also seems worth noting that between 2001 and 2010, inflation increased more than 23 percent. The financial news for my generation is grim. (It’s not much better for younger Baby Boomers.) Things are compounded by the fact that about 70 percent of children under 18 live in households headed by Gen Xers.

From the New York Times: “A hypothetical family richer than half the nation’s families and poorer than the other half had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, compared with $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said. The crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss.”

Monopoly Play Money
Inflation has increased more than 23 percent in the last 10 years. | Photo by Jennifer – All Rights Reserved

Last Rites for the Middle Class

Alan Grayson of Salisbury News summarizes it like this: “And the poor get poorer.” He says if this continues we can call a priest to administer last rites to the middle class. And, Maria Panaritis, one of the only members of the nation’s press corps to continually sound the Gen X drum, characterizes the situation as Generation X getting scorched.

Some more bad news about Gen X net worth

  • Median wealth of American families in 2007 was $126,400.
  • It dropped nearly 40 percent by 2010, to $77,300.
  • Americans with no high school diploma experienced a 54 percent drop in income from 2007 to 2010, from $34,800 to $16,100.
  • Median wealth among minorities dropped from $29,700 to $20,400.
  • White median wealth is currently 540 percent higher than minority median wealth.
  • 12 percent of American families are completely broke and have no net worth. 
  • The median value of an American home in 2007 was about $210,000.
  • In 2010, the median home value was $170,000.
  • In 2007, the top 10 percent of Americans had a net worth of $955,600 or more. During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, this number had decreased by only 1 percent ($952,500 in 2010).

Goodness Gracious Lyrics

Chances are, you haven’t heard of Kevin Gilbert, and if you have, you’ve forgotten all about him. He was a Gen Xer who was born in 1966 and who died in 1996, before he even turned 30. He was a songwriter and musician who once dated Sheryl Crow, and whose first solo album, Thud, was released in 1995.

On that album is a song called Goodness Gracious. Looking back, these lyrics could have served as a clarion call, but they didn’t. Instead, they’ve lived in virtual obscurity. Here is Kevin’s prophecy, which was an acute understanding of the present that escaped most of us. This is also his indictment on older generations.

Goodness gracious, is there nothing left to say?
When the ones that get to keep looking are the ones that look away
It’s pabulum for the sleepers in the cult of brighter days

Goodness gracious, at the mercy of the crooks
We’re broke and stroking vegetables and there’s way too many cooks
In every pot a pink slip, in every mouth a hook

Goodness gracious, i’m not listening anymore
‘Cause the spooks are in the white house and they’ve justified a war
So wake me when they notify we’re gonna fight some more

Goodness gracious, not many people care
Concern is getting scarcer, true compassion really rare
I can see it on our faces, i can feel it in the air
Goodness gracious me

Goodness gracious, my generation’s lost
They burned down all our bridges before we had a chance to cross
Is it the winter of our discontent or just an early frost?

Goodness gracious, of apathy i sing
The babyboomers had it all and wasted everything
Now recess is almost over and they won’t get off the swing

Goodness gracious, we came in at the end
No sex that isn’t dangerous, no money left to spend
We’re the cleanup crew for parties we were too young to attend
Goodness gracious me [repeat]

Goodness gracious my grandma used to say
The world’s a scary place now, things were different in her day
What horrors will be commonplace when my hair starts to grey?

I’d love to know what you think of these lyrics and the Federal Reserve’s report. By the way, the years for Generation X are 1961 to 1981.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Jennifer James

    Sobering words from MIC. And, I’m afraid he might be right. I have no idea how all this is going to end, but I’m considering a garden not only in my backyard, but the front as well. I’ll need to use all the real estate I have…ugh.

  2. le_third

    holy mac jen …..I just read those figures to MIC and his was response was that the US is screwed 🙁

    those figures freak me out … As for us our state is paying $15m a day in interest WTF ?? some smarty said the govt could sell off the assets … what assets … the road network, the gutters, the schools … please give me a break – love you le xox

  3. Jennifer James

    Oh, it’s a good day when Andi and ToB both comment. =)

    @ANDI – Can’t believe you met Kevin Gilbert. I’d completely forgotten about him until I read that piece by Maria Pantaritis on Someone had quoted a line from the song. In five years of blogging about Gen X I haven’t thought of him, but I do remember that song. I can imagine that about Sheryl Crow. Some of him stuff has been released posthumously, so I’m going to pay him and his creative genius a return visit. RIP Kevin Gilbert. His death was awful and bizarre. Thanks for sharing such a cool story.

    @ToB – Some of the comments about Xers on the article by Boomers were terrible. I was going to quote some, but they disappeared overnight before I’d captured them. And, while we’re on the subject of the economy, I can not believe what is happening in Europe…this financial catacylsm reaches far beyond sea-to-shining sea. Thanks, as always, for your comment.

  4. Andi

    I had the honor and the pleasure to get to know Kevin Gilbert a little bit (and I got to meet Sheryl Crow who had not had the dramatic make-over she has now let me tell you). My boyfriend in college took guitar lessons from a friend of Toy Matinee and we spent a weekend in a recording session with them in LA. Then we saw them play in the Bay Area a couple of times. I was always, always struck by the lyrics of their songs and played their tape and/or CD in my car all the time. As far as the Fed Report, not good news, did these kind of drops plague other generations in previous decades?


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