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Poll: Economy adversely affects youth

From NBC's Claire Luke
Though all Americans are affected by the recent economic downturn, young adults are bearing the brunt of the recession more than any other group, according to a new poll.

"While everyone in this country is suffering, in almost every respect, it has affected young people more," Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Senior Vice President Anna Greenberg said in a conference call today.

Qvisory, a nonprofit online advocacy and service organization for young adults ages 18 to 34, regardless of employment status, commissioned the poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner to reveal the extent to which young adults are affected by the sour economy.

The poll revealed that many young adults are making lifestyle adjustments and buying on credit to cope with unemployment rates and harsh economic conditions, and are also making choices that will affect them in the long run.

Sixty-two percent of those polled say their personal economic conditions are fair or poor, and 19% are unemployed or looking for work, compared to 7% of adults. (It is not clear, however, if this number included students).

The poll also showed that young adults are more likely to work part-time, and are thus more likely than adults not to have health care, Greenberg said. Additionally, 17% of young adults said, according to the poll, that they have been affected in some way by bankruptcy.

So how are young adults coping with these economic burdens?

Many make cuts that will affect them on a more direct, short-term basis, such as staying home instead of going out or refraining from purchasing clothes or music. Two-in-five also said they have even skipped a meal in order to save money.

Young adults are being forced to consider whether it is financially better to attend college or drop out, Greenberg said, or whether to buy a house, get married, start a family, or to acquire debt or not. As high as 35 percent of those polled in the survey said they either have left or delayed school because of the economy.

"Young people are delaying the kinds of decisions that will affect their adult lives," Greenberg stated. Additionally, Greenberg insisted that, because of the economy, many young adults are losing out on opportunities that would have otherwise encouraged self-exploration in the prime of one's life.

Greenberg added that the age group is also coping by "getting by with plastic," and taking on increased debt. Younger people today now have more student-loan debt than they did 20 years ago, Greenberg said.

To help counteract these conditions, Qvisory is implementing new initiatives for unemployed young adults. These initiatives include prepaid card-alternatives for those who have difficulty acquiring credit, a new low-cost dental insurance program for $29 per month, per individual and $34 per family, new expansion of membership benefits, including financial counseling and a safe online deposit box for personal records.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly noted that Qvisory advocates for young adults 18 to 34, who are unemployed. The group advocates for that age group, regardless of employment status, a spokeswoman points out.]