No standard definition for Generation Y exists, but analysts generally classify anyone born from the 1980s to 2000 as members. Demographers also call them the Millennial Generation.
Their plight seems as much created by members' pre-recession personal finance habits as by the misfortune of coming of age as the recession took hold in December 2007:
•About 37% of 18- to 29-year-olds have been underemployed or out of work during the recession, the highest share among the age group in more than three decades, according to a Pew Research Center study released in February.
•This generation is the least likely of any to be covered by health insurance. Just 61% say they were covered by some form of a health plan, the Pew study said.
•Only 58% pay monthly bills on time, a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) 2010 survey said.
•60% of workers 20 to 29 years old cashed out their 401(k) retirement plans — typically a big financial no-no because such a move squanders retirement assets and forces the recipient to pay a tax penalty — when they changed or lost jobs, an October study by Hewitt Associates said.
•Nearly 70% of Gen Y members are not building up a cash cushion, and 43% are amassing too much credit card debt, says a November MetLife poll.
On average, Gen Yers each have more than three credit cards, and 20% carry a balance of more than $10,000, according to Fidelity Investments.
•Millennials are graduating from college with an average of $23,200 in student debt, according to the most recent data from the Project on Student Debt. That is a 24% increase from 2004.