The day Michael Anselmo signed a lease on his first apartment in New York City, he lost his job at Buck Consultants LLC. He spent about 10 months struggling to pay rent with unemployment benefits. Two years later he’s still hesitant to buy a home or even a road bike.
“Every decision that I have made since I lost my job has been colored by that insecurity I feel about the future,” said Anselmo, 28, who now rents an apartment in Austin, Texas, and works as a consultant for UnitedHealth Group Inc. “Buying a house is just further out on the timeline for me than it used to be.”
Anselmo and many of his peers are wary about making large purchases after entering adulthood in the deepest recession and weakest recovery since World War II. Confronting a jobless rate above 8 percent since 2009 and student-loan debt hitting about $1 trillion, 20-to-34-year-olds are renting apartments, cars and even clothing to save money and stay flexible.
As the Great Depression shaped the attitudes of a generation from 1929 until the early years of World War II, so have the financial crisis and its aftermath affected the outlook of young consumers like Anselmo, said Cliff Zukin, a professor of public policy and political science at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey.
“This is a generation that is scared of commitment, wants to be light on their feet and needs to adjust to whatever happens,” said Zukin, who’s researched the effects of the recession on recent college graduates. “What once was seen as a solid investment, like a house or a car, is now seen as a ball and chain with a lot of risk to it.”
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