Generation X often is referred to as the forgotten generation, sandwiched between the large and culturally powerful Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. Today, Generation X commands less attention than Boomers and Millennials from both researchers and the media. A groundbreaking new report aimed at correcting this oversight, at least in terms of assessing the retirement preparedness of Gen X.

The Forgotten Generation: Generation X Approaches Retirement finds a dismal retirement outlook for Generation X, the first generation to enter the labor market following the shift from defined benefit pension plans to 401(k)-style defined contribution accounts. When looking at median retirement savings levels for Generation X, report finds that the bottom half of earners have only a few thousand dollars saved for retirement, and the typical household has only $40,000 in retirement savings. Retirement savings for Generation X is highly concentrated among the highest earners, while Blacks and Hispanics have substantially lower savings and access to retirement plans as compared to whites.

This report from the National Institute on Retirement Security is authored by Tyler Bond, NIRS research director, Celia Ringland, NIRS research associate, and Joelle Saad-Lessler, Stevens Institute associate professor and associate dean of undergraduate studies. The report examines a wide range of metrics for assessing retirement preparedness, including sponsorship, take-up, and participation rates in employer-provided retirement plans. This research also assesses current rates of plan coverage, coverage by industry, and retirement account balances, with analyses by race, gender, and marital status where applicable.

The report defines Generation X as those born between 1965 and 1980. As of December 2020, Gen X represented almost 64 million Americans, or nearly 20 percent of the population.The report also offers an analysis of solutions that could improve the retirement outlook for Generation X related to Social Security, SECURE 2.0 legislation, state-facilitated retirement plans, and tax policy.

The analysis for this research relies upon data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a nationally representative longitudinal survey that provides comprehensive information on the dynamics of income, employment, household composition, and government program participation.