Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco
2:41 PM CDT, August 22, 2012
The economy is forcing more young Americans to put off major life decisions, according to a new survey. But how the young voters react to this year’s upcoming presidential election as a result remains to be seen.
Results were released Wednesday from a poll of 1,003 Americans ages 18 to 29 conducted between July 27 and July 31 and commissioned by Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization aimed educating and engaging Millennials on economic challenges. The survey has a 3.1 percent margin of error.
The poll showed 84 percent--up from 77 percent last year--of young adults either have or will delay a major life change or purchase thanks to the economy, such as buying their own place, going back to school, starting a family, getting married, changing jobs or paying off student loans.
There’s much discussion on student loan interest rates, but 64 percent of young adults surveyed said they believe the availability of more full-time jobs after graduation is more important.
“It goes right to the heart of matter. If you don’t have a full-time job when you graduate, you can’t repay your loan,” said Paul Conway, president of Generation Opportunity.
While the national unemployment rate in July is at 8.3 percent, the rate is much higher for young adults at 12.7 percent and even higher if factoring in the number of young people who have given up looking for work because of the lack of jobs, according to Conway, who once served as U.S. Department of Labor chief of staff.
Unemployment remains a top issue for Millennials, a group that was key in electing President Obama. Youth voter turnout was 51 percent in 2008. And since, various polls have showed Obama’s approval rating among that demographic has slipped and young people were less engaged in politics.
But Conway said the latest survey shows that young adults are not disaffected or disinterested. The results said 38 percent believe political leaders reflect their interests and 76 percent plan to vote in the presidential election.
He said he believes because young adults don’t have confidence that elected officials are representing their concerns, they will turn out and vote for whoever can create the most job opportunities the fastest.
“If you fail to offer substantive solutions to young adults that reflect an answer to what’s going on in their everyday life, you will not connect with them,” he said. The candidates should listen to their concerns and understand how the economy is impacting them, he said.
“If you can’t address what people are experiencing everyday in their life, you should not expect their support,” Conway said.
Here’s a closer look at how 89 percent of young people in the survey said the current economy is impacting their day-to-day lives (won’t add up to 100 percent because multiple responses were accepted):
51 percent – reduced their entertainment budget
43 percent – reduced their grocery/food budget
43 percent – cut back on gifts for family and friends
40 percent – skipped a vacation
32 percent – tried to find an additional job
26 percent – changed their living situation
17 percent – skipped a wedding, family reunion or other significant social event
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