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In rough economy, young adults struggle the most

America's young adults may have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn, says a study by the Pew Research Center.
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Written by Sarah Korones on

It’s not easy to start a life in the middle of a recession—which is why many young Americans have been forced to put the rites of passage traditionally associated with adulthood on hold.

More young Americans (ages 18 to 24) are unemployed now than at any point since the 1940s, says a study by the Pew Research Center released on Thursday. With only 54 percent of this segment of the population holding jobs, the gap in employment between young and all other working-age adults is a full 15 percentage points—the widest it’s been in recorded history.

The lack of employment hurts in places other than the wallet. With precarious job security and a greater drop in wages than any other age group, 20- and 30-somethings are more reluctant than ever to settle down and start a family. More than a quarter (31 percent) of this group say they have delayed getting married or having a baby due to economic hardship.

More sobering statistics from the Pew Study:

  • 49 percent of young adults ages 18 to 34 have taken a job they didn’t want in order to pay the bills.
  • 24 percent have taken an unpaid job in order to gain work experience.
  • 35 percent have gone back to school due to the poor economy.
  • 24 percent have moved back in with their parents after living on their own.

Thankfully, the Millennials themselves don’t seem to be too worried. Levels of optimism have remain unchanged since before the economic downturn and a vast majority (88 percent) of young adults report that they earn enough money now or believe they will in the future.

Another beam of hope on the horizon: more young Americans are enrolled in high school or college today than at any other time in history—a promising stat that can account for at least some of the unemployed.

Image: khteWisconsin/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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