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Young Americans waylaid by recession, study shows

August 5, 2011 |  4:25 pm

Grisso The poor economy has hit the younger generation hard, as young'uns graduate from high school and college and find there aren't any jobs. A poll out Friday indicates that the pain may affect their future behavior, which in turn slows the economy even further, as young people postpone buying homes and starting families.

The Polling Company Inc./WomanTrend polled Millenials -- people aged 18 to 29 -- to ask them how the bad economy is changing their lives. Three-quarters of those polled said they have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors and 44% said they'd delay buying a home.

Nearly one-quarter said they'd delay starting a family, and 18% said they'd put off getting married (But maybe that's just an excuse -- perhaps "The economy's bad" is the new "It's not you, it's me"). Nearly 30% of those surveyed said they were delaying saving for retirement, paying off student loans and changing jobs or cities.

"The impact of the poor economy, in human terms, has been devastating," said Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit. "This is especially true for young Americans, whose lives have been interrupted and dreams put on hold due to the lack of economic opportunity."

The unemployment rate for people 16 to 19 years old was 25% in July, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although the overall unemployment rate for all workers was 9.1%. The unemployment rate for people 20 to 24 years old was 14.6%.

Household formation has already been affected, as the younger generation moves back in with their parents, rather than striking out on their own. The average size of a U.S. household has grown in recent years, after declining for decades. Slowing household formation is just one reason that demand for homes remains low.

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-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Families such as the Grissos have numerous generations under one roof to save on costs. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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