Labor

Heh. Heh. Work Is Cool.

Gen Xers are more positive about work than boomers.

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Say goodbye to the Generation X stereotype of suicidal, aimless whiners. The much-derided under-30 "slackers" are working and are positively…positive about their jobs, according to a new study by the Wyatt Co., a D.C.-based management consulting firm. It's baby boomers who think reality bites.

Wyatt polled 4,300 employees and discovered that workers under age 30 were more satisfied with their jobs than any other age group. In contrast, boomers, those 30-49 years old, were the most negative.

Among the findings, half of Xers say they are confident in their companies' management, versus 41 percent of boomers who say so. And 38 percent of younger workers say their companies promote the most competent employees. Just 23 percent of boomers agree.

Paul Sanchez, author of the Wyatt study, says that younger workers have a curious combination of cynicism and naiveté that makes them more likely to be satisfied. Sanchez suggests younger workers enter the work force with such low expectations that "job satisfaction almost comes as a surprise."

He also says that Xers haven't been working long enough to experience much turmoil in the workplace. Boomers, as a group, have witnessed more recessions, downsizings, and managerial incompetence and so are more apt to question company leadership and decisions.

But there are also strong reasons for Xers to be optimistic. In 1993, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds had at least some higher education, compared to just 31 percent in 1980. And as the first generation to be fewer in number than the one before, they are likely to have greater opportunities for advancement.