Pew survey: Weak economy hitting young adults hard

The weak economy is hitting young Americans (ages 18 to 34) particularly hard, according to a study released today by the Pew Research Center.

"This is a very unsettled time in their life, and it's an unsettled economy," Kim Parker, associate director of Pew's Social & Demographic Trends Project, told USA Today.

The study notes only a third of young adults described their financial situation as “excellent” or “good,” compared with 54 percent for seniors age 65 and over, the Associated Press reported. In 2004, before the recession began, the percentage of young and older adults rating their own financial situation highly was about the same.

Nearly half of the young adults surveyed by Pew said they had taken a job just to pay the bills; almost a quarter had worked without pay to obtain experience; and more than one third went back to school because they were unable to find work, USA Today reported.

In addition, about 20 percent of young adults told Pew that they had delayed getting married, and 22 percent said they had postponed having a baby, the Guardian reported. Some 24 percent of young adults had moved back in with their parents after living on their own.

The 15-percentage-point gap in employment between young Americans and all adults in the United States is the widest ever recorded, the report noted, according to the Guardian.

Young people’s suffering is not going unnoticed. Forty-one percent of all people polled said that young adults have been hit harder by the recession than middle-aged Americans or seniors 65 and older, the Associated Press reported. Some 69 percent said it’s more difficult for young people to pay for college, find a job, buy a home or save than it was for their parents.

“Young workers are on the bottom of the ladder, and during a recession like we’ve had, it’s often hard for them to hold on,” Parker told the AP.

The Pew report is based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and a poll of 2,048 adults – 800 between the ages of 18 and 34 – interviewed between Dec. 6 and Dec. 19, 2011, according to the AP.

More from GlobalPost: New study finds only 1 in 3 Americans want to get married (VIDEO)

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.