Understanding the Boomers and their Contribution

Boomer’s Photo by: RMPhoto.com

I started speaking on Generations in the Workplace, to corporations and associations  back in 2000, when the Baby Boomers were in the heights of their careers and businesses. Back then, Boomers were the leaders in most organizations. Today, it’s a different story.  Boomers have either retired or are facing retirement in the next few years. Since the Boomers have left their mark on America and our ways of doing business I decided to write this post giving you a peek into “The Why” Boomers are Boomers and the impact they have made in our lives,

 

Who is the The Baby Boomer?  Born 1946–1964

The name “baby boomer” refers to the tremendous spike in births when WWII came to an end. In fact, the birth of the boomers signaled the end of 16 years of depression and war. But now as peace and prosperity returned, America was ready for a new start.

The post-war era brought not only babies, but also a new confidence in the economy. Corporations began to grow larger and more profitable, and labor unions were in their heyday promising higher wages, benefits, and a brighter future for their members. Parents of this new generation wanted to give their children so many of the opportunities and things they did not have in their own childhoods.

 

Boomer’s Lifestyle Changes and the Women’s Movement

One of the first lifestyle changes after the war was the birth of “the burbs.” Visionary developers bought land on the outskirts of the cities and built mass-produced homes (tract homes) on the land. Low-interest rates through the G.I. Bill for vets tempted many city dwellers to move out to the burbs, while others just wanted to leave the city life and raise their families in a safer environment.

 

Although the flight from cities to suburbs was great for family life, many women felt isolated and trapped away from their city lifestyle. Another point to remember is that during the war some 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces, both at home and abroad. More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just one percent in the pre-war years). Rosie the Riveter symbolized the new-found strength of the working woman during the war years.

 

However, in the 1950s, a shift in thinking was on the rise, and women were told to go back into the home where their most important job was to bear and rear children, along with being a good wife who knew how to cook and keep a tidy home. For some women, this shift in lifestyle and values generated a huge dissatisfaction, and the women’s liberation movement began contributing to the feminist movement of the 1960s.

  

Television, Credit Cards, and Consumerism

The post-war economy was able to raise the standard of living for many families. Moving from apartment living to a home with a “family room” required more furniture! A new concept in buying with a credit card was born, and people began purchasing on credit products of the revved up economy: televisions, hi-fi systems, new cars, and clothing. Consumerism wasn’t just for the adults as marketers begin to realize there were huge profits to be made from the boomer babies too. They began to watch the habits of the newest generation, who were now watching TV and, in particular, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. Boomer children begged their parents to buy them mouse-ears, Davey Crocket hats, hula hoops, Frisbees, and lots of other toys now being advertised on TV. The boomer child had buying power! Looking back on this new affluent spending may have been the precursor to the boomers’ philosophy of spend-now-and-worry-later lifestyle.

 

Boomers and the  Counter-Culture of the Sixties

The first boomers entered their teens and said so long to Elvis and hello to the Beatles, Stones, and the Dave Clark 5. Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A-Changin’” as civil unrest exploded with the Vietnam War, and many baby boomers began to gravitate to a counterculture. Rejecting the status quo, student activism appeared on many college campuses. Young adults became activists protesting civil rights and the war. Other boomers dropped out completely and they were called hippies. The hippie arrived on the scene with their long hair, Birkenstocks, tie-dye clothing, peace signs, and hallucinogenic drugs.

 

Living the American Dream Requires “Work, Work and More Work”

When the oldest boomers entered the workforce in the late ’60s and early ’70s, they brought with them their vision of the American Dream, a competitive nature, a strong need to be seen as an individual, and a new style of leadership. They replaced their predecessors’ “my way or the highway” style with a more democratic consensus of leadership and teamwork.

 

Their dream was challenged early on. The 1970–1980 decade was filled with uncertainty in the U.S. workforce. The U.S. was moving from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and the transition involved downsizings, mergers, and reorganizations. Attitudes towards work and the employer were changing. As the uncertainty grew, some boomers felt betrayed, but they continued to work longer and harder. Boomers have felt they are hardwired for work. As boomers have aged, they also have admitted that they have stayed in jobs that had no growth or future, but still continued to work hard calling their work a “badge of honor.”

 

In 1991, we signed the North American Tread Agreement, and many U.S. manufacturing companies moved to Mexico and overseas. The look and feel of work was changing and many boomers moved into management.

 

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president, followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Baby boomers have risen to the highest levels of corporations and elected offices. Their time is now fading into the golden years of retirement, but they have left an enduring mark on our society. One has to be proud of being included in this remarkable generation.

Today, the oldest baby boomers are already in their 70s. By 2030, about one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that the aging of the population will place a strain on social welfare systems.

Bill Clinton was the first baby boomer to serve as president, followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Baby boomers have risen to the highest levels of corporations and elected offices. Their time is now fading into the golden years of retirement, but they have left an enduring mark on our society. One has to be proud of being included in this remarkable generation.

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