"The recession has hit them hard," says Jose Garcia, associate director of policy and research at Demos, based in New York. "It affects their income potential, their saving potential and their career-ladder potential."
Kristen Ammerman, 21, a senior at Michigan State University, faces such challenges and sees her Gen Y classmates struggling with financial issues — while seemingly oblivious to the potential consequences.
"I work at a part-time job, have incredible debt and get food stamps," she says. "I'm still short on rent every month. ... My friends all want the newest and best things. They spend money on them any chance they get."
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:
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