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Gen Y Paradox: More Confident, Less Employed

With nearly 50 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 falling under the label Gen Y, this group is large, diverse and difficult to profile (despite the media's many attempts). But that hasn't dissuaded The Pew Research Center from taking a crack at understanding the youngest generation in the workforce. They've released the latest results of their survey of just over 2,000 people this week.

So what did the respected research institution find? In the midst of a flurry of data about Gen Y's politics (comparatively left-leaning) and relationship with their elders (surprisingly good), the report also hints at an apparent paradox. While Gen Y have suffered a horrible job market, most remain strangely sunny in their outlook for their financial future:

Despite struggling (and often failing) to find jobs in the teeth of a recession, about nine-in-ten either say that they currently have enough money or that they will eventually meet their long-term financial goals. But at the moment, fully 37 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are unemployed or out of the workforce, the highest share among this age group in more than three decades.
Are Gen Y delusional that their finances will all work out even though nearly four in ten of them are unemployed? Is such confidence just a healthy feature of youth throughout the decades? And do you foresee an ugly collision between Gen Yers and reality, or do you think that an economic recovery will prove their optimism was well placed?

(Question mark image by db*photography, CC 2.0)

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