‘Lost Generation’ Faces New Obstacles

Many young adults face poor job prospects, high student debt levels.

March 08, 2012
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Generation Y (those born between 1981 and 2000) faces a multitude of obstacles baby boomers never faced, earning them what Business Week calls “lost generation” status.

According to Demos, these obstacles include:

• Poor job prospects. The jobless rate among 18- to 24-year-olds (17.3%) is roughly double the nation’s average.

The unemployment picture is especially grim for young African-American and Latino men without college degrees.

High levels of student debt. The average public school tuition is almost three times higher today than in 1980.

Two-thirds of students graduate with student loan debt, averaging $24,842. And student default rates have increased 31% over the past two years.

High cost of living. About 41.3% of consumers ages 25 to 34 who don’t live with their parents spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

• A lack of insurance. In the past decade, the number of employees ages 18 to 24 who were covered by employer-sponsored insurance plans declined 12.8%.

The rate of decline was 8.5% for those ages 25 to 34.

• Poor financial security. Most young adults call their personal financial situations “fair” or “poor.” Only one of 16 rates their financial situation “excellent.”

Credit unions can reach young adults by emphasizing their strengths. When choosing a primary financial institution, Gen Yers most value financial stability, safety and soundness, reasonable charges and fees, and trust in the institution to do what’s best for them, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 Survey of Potential Members.

“They want to know they won’t get charged for accessing their money and they want the security of knowing their money is in a good place,” says Tia Anderson, Gen Y engagement specialist at $1.1 billion asset Public Service Credit Union in Denver. “Gen Yers want to do banking on their terms.”

Younger consumers also value convenience, she adds, which increasingly involves access to mobile banking, e-statements, and 24/7 access to accounts.

“They want to be able to get answers immediately,” Anderson says, “and get on with their lives.”

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive