Young Americans: Living on the Financial Edge


Anna Greenberg and Jessica Keating
Qvisory

 Downloads

 Qvisory Memo (PDF - 20 K)

 Qvisory Survey Results (PDF - 4 K)

 Qvisory Powerpoint (PDF - 30 K)

 Qvisory Press Release (PDF - 3 K)

 

Executive Summary

 As the media and national leaders focus on the current economic downturn in America - the credit crunch, mortgage crisis, and rising cost of living - less attention is paid to the impact the rocky economy is having on its young people.

 In a new report commissioned by Qvisory, a nonprofit online advocacy and service organization that supports the health, financial well-being, and career goals of 19-35 year old adults, Anna Greenberg and Jessica Keating explore the intense constraints young people face when it comes to making ends meet, managing credit, and navigating rough economic currents. This unique study, which surveyed the opinions of both young adults and their parents, finds that young people are being hit especially hard.

 With three out of four young Americans reporting they are in more debt this year than they were last year, and over half reporting that they sometimes make just the minimum credit card payment each month, it comes as no surprise that financial concerns are building. Unfortunately, at the same moment financial pressure is reaching a point of desperation, young people also believe their voices are being ignored by leaders in Washington.

 

Key Findings

  • Youths are growing more worried about their pocketbooks. Financial concerns top the list of problems facing young adults in their lives today, at 55 percent, a 10-point jump over the past year. Additionally, only 32 percent of young people think the leadership in Washington, DC, hear their concerns and represent their interests well.
  • The credit crisis is mounting for this generation. One in three young people who owe money on a credit card report that they owe more than $10,000 overall and more than half report they sometimes only pay the minimum payment each month.
  • Rising medical debt is compounding the problem. More than half of all young people have gone without health insurance at some point in the past five years - including 75% of those who are now carrying medical debt.
  • Interestingly, parents are less concerned about their kids’ immediate financial problems. Parents of young adults worry less about the immediate financial strains facing their children but are more concerned about their children's health and long-term security. Compared to their adult children, parents are twice as likely to worry about their kids being able to afford health insurance, but only about a third as likely to be concerned about gas prices and their kids’ ability to pay their bills in today’s economy.

 

Methodology

 This research was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Qvisory in a series of two parallel surveys. using opt-in web panels that are built to approximate national representation.

  • The first web survey fielded June 5-10, 2008, and reached 600 young adults ages 19-35. The data were weighted by gender, age, race, education, and region. The sample size with these weights applied is 600.
  • The second web survey fielded June 5-9, 2008, and reached 300 parents of adult children ages 19-35. The data were weighted by gender, race, education, and region. The sample size with these weights applied is 300.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner designed and administered both web surveys. Internet surveys, by necessity, use non-probability based sampling methods and these results need to be considered with that limitation in mind. Opt-in web panels, like the ones used for this survey, are built to approximate national representation, but they sometimes over-represent better educated and higher income demographic.