Survey: Young People Hit Hardest

Debt, lack of health insurance and job instability are hurting 20-somethings.

By + More

Pete Mele, a 28-year-old married father of two in Queens, New York, says that after he graduated from college with "a little bit of debt" and then got married, he felt like he hit a brick wall. He and his wife would like to buy a house, he says, but even if they managed to come up with $20,000 for a down payment, the mortgage would be at least double what they pay in rent for a three-bedroom apartment. "At this rate, we'll never have a house, it's just fiscally impossible. So I don't know what to do," he says.

In many ways, Mele's situation represents that of his generation. Twenty-somethings are struggling to pay off student loan debt, hang on to jobs, and pay for health insurance. According to a new survey by Qvisory, a nonprofit advocacy group, around one in five young adults between ages 18 to 29 are unemployed, compared to the 7 percent unemployment rate for those over age 30. Over half of those surveyed said they had lost their health insurance coverage sometime in the last five years, and two in five said they skipped a meal to save money.

"America's younger generation is in jeopardy of not just doing worse than their parents, but of spending decades digging themselves out of debt," says Gina Glantz, treasurer at Qvisory.

Young people have been hit particularly hard, says Anna Greenberg, senior vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, which conducted the survey. One of the problems is that young people are more likely to work part-time jobs, which tend to be more affected by wage and hour cuts. Combined with student debt, lack of health insurance, and credit card debt, Greenberg says that many young people may be digging themselves into a hole that could impact their financial security over the next several decades.

"At the very moment when the world is their oyster… [young people] are really hampered by the economic situation that makes it not just hard to get ahead, but puts a lot of young people in jeopardy of digging themselves into a hole that could affect their long-term future," says Greenberg.

For more, read:

  • "When Young People's High Hopes Create Despair"
    • "Beth Kobliner: Young People Have Opportunity"
      • "Young Adults on Economy: We Need Help"