Each generation of Americans is different – shaped by the economic, social and political realities of their time. For our 2016 Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits Report, we set out to understand the financial mindsets of Americans ages 18 to 26 – young people who were still in school during the Great Recession (2008), those just starting out in the job market and many of whom are voting for the first or second time.
Our 2016 report, Young Americans & Money, found that:
- For this age group, which includes younger millennials as well as older members of Generation Z, adulthood is less about age and more about their personal financial situations.
- Most young people (62 percent) do not feel like adults when they turn 18. When asked to define adulthood in their own words, “financial independence” was their top response.
- Though their education has set them up for success in other ways, young Americans are not necessarily feeling “life ready” upon graduating.
- Only 31 percent said their high school education did a good job teaching them strong financial habits. Of those who attended college, only 41 percent said their college education did a good job imparting those lessons.
- Job growth/unemployment (27 percent), health care costs (25 percent) and college affordability/student debt (24 percent) rose to the top as young voters’ top campaign issues in the 2016 presidential election. Among those with student debt, nearly one in four say it will impact the way they vote “a great deal.”
For complete findings, download the 2016 report.
Since 2014, Bank of America has worked with USA TODAY to survey thousands of young adults to understand their attitudes and outlook with respect to their finances. The research is an extension of the work we do through Better Money Habits, our financial education initiative. With Better Money Habits, we offer resources and solutions to help all Americans improve their financial knowledge and confidence.