Why Young Americans Are So Down About High Gas Prices

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- While we're all feeling pain at the pump, 20-somethings are especially upset over high gas prices right now, claiming it's killing their bank accounts. Why are the youth of America taking high gas prices so personally?

There's no question gas prices are rising steadily, with reports on Saturday showing national prices rising daily for more than a week.
A survey shows young Americans are especially upset over gas prices, which are hitting hard in this sour economy.

According to AAA, gas prices are, on average, at $3.80 per gallon. That's about 30 cents lower than the all-time high of $4.11 in July 2008. But as the auto association notes, don't get too excited.

"This week's slight drop in gas prices is unlikely to bring any smiles to motorists, considering prices at the pump are expected to continue their upward trend in the coming weeks," said Jana L. Tidwell, public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic, in a press release. "Spring, a time when prices at the pump typically increase, is less than two weeks away, and analysts believe prices will top out in the $3.75 to $4.25 per gallon range before retreating later this summer."

Well, young Americans aren't a patient lot in the first place, and they're doubling down on that impatience on gas prices. That's the conclusion of a study out from Generation Opportunity, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

Generation Opportunity has a new social medai movement called " Gas Prices Are Too Damn High," and it already has more than 400,000 members. The Facebook page offers young millennials a forum to vent over gasoline prices and trade tips on how to keep high gas prices from cutting too deeply into their savings accounts.

"Gas prices are a one-two punch to young people in this poor economy," said Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity. "Rapidly rising gas prices are hitting young people across the country particularly hard, exponentially increasing the cost of most activities they engage in and adding to their costs in finding a job or getting to work."

It's not all about high gasoline prices, although that is the primary issue to young Americans. Generation Opportunity says in a recent survey that 61% of Millennials put energy dependency at the top of the list of U.S. national security issues, and 70% of young adults say they would increase fossil-fuel-based domestic energy resources like oil, gas and coal.

High energy prices are just the tip of the financial iceberg for young Americans, Generation Opportunity says. The group's survey, released Wednesday, says 77% of young adults "have a major life change" because of the lousy economy.

Here's a look at the GO survey numbers, which tracks financial ramifications of high gas prices and a sour economy:
  • 44% of young Americans surveyed said they were delaying buying a home.
  • 28% are delaying saving for retirement.
  • 27% have stopped paying off student loans or other debt.
  • 27% are holding off on going back to school/getting more education or training.
  • 26% are pushing back moves to change jobs/cities.
  • 23% are delaying starting a family.
  • 18% are holding off on getting married.

If the GO numbers are accurate, we're talking about a generational shift from young Americans, who are putting off major financial moves because - and there's really no other way to put it - they can't afford it.

And skyrocketing gas prices may well be the straw that broke the camel's back.

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