New Survey: Recession Hitting Young Adults Hardest; With Jobs Disappearing, Wages Shrinking and Benefits Vanishing, Many Are Using Credit Cards to Get By
WASHINGTON, April 8, 2009 — America's young adults face an economy so bleak that many are making choices to make ends meet now that could diminish their economic prospects for a lifetime, according to a new survey that paints a grim picture of the financial challenges facing the generation entering the workforce now.
Conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and commissioned by Qvisory, an online advocacy group that is helping young adults with their money, work and health concerns, the poll finds that young adults are feeling the effects of the economic downturn more acutely than other groups. Three in five (62 percent) say their personal economic condition is fair or poor. Most have the same or more debt than they had a year ago. Nearly one-third have paid a late fee on a credit card in the last year, 17 percent have fallen behind on mortgage payments and 18 percent have fallen behind on student loans. Two in five have skipped a meal to save money.
"These poll findings are sobering," said Margot Brandenburg, Associate Director, The Rockefeller Foundation. "The Foundation invested in Qvisory because we want to help young workers who lack health insurance, face large debt burdens and have few resources to help them attain their financial and professional goals. The tools Qvisory makes available to members of this demographic - including appropriate and affordable health insurance, prepaid debit card and financial counseling products - can go a long way toward placing them on more solid footing."
"Job losses, wage cuts and disappearing health care are threatening a generation that is relying heavily on credit simply to survive," said Qvisory Treasurer Gina Glantz, Senior Advisor to the President of SEIU. "That's why Qvisory is adding new services to help this generation survive. Low-cost dental insurance joins our health insurance programs to help fill the insurance gap. An innovative pre-paid card helps those with no credit or bad credit get their feet on the ground, without any hidden fees. And, now members can take advantage of health and wellness benefits through a Qvisory/Aetna membership assistance program, discussing job loss, work stress or other issues of concern. This program joins our free financial counseling service through BALANCE. These types of programs are usually only available to people who work for large companies. Now, they are available to everyone through Qvisory."
Among the other findings from the new survey:
* Nearly one in five young adults (19 percent) are unemployed or looking for work. High debt and low savings puts them at particular risk when job losses occur.
* Two in five young adults (41 percent) have been affected by cuts in wages or hours. Half of those who work part-time have had their wages or hours cut.
* Nearly one-quarter of young adults say that they or a family member has recently lost health insurance (23 percent). More than half of those surveyed have lost their coverage at some point in the previous five years.
* Twenty percent of young adults say they or a family member are delaying or leaving college or have transferred to a less expensive school. Twenty-two percent are delaying marriage or waiting to start a family.
"These results underscore that young adults are facing enormous challenges in this recession," said Anna Greenberg, Senior Vice President, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. "More than their parents or grandparents, they are starting out with high debt that continues to accumulate as they try to find their place in the workforce. The services Qvisory is providing can make a real difference, but it also is important that policy makers and business leaders pay attention to this data so they will understand the challenges this generation is facing."
The national survey of 606 young adults, ages 18 to 29, was conducted February 25 to March 11, 2009.
Qvisory was founded with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Service Employees International Union, and other donors. It provides services to and advocacy for young adults on its website, Qvisory.org. To view the poll, go to www.qvisory.org/events.