The Great Recession hurt everyone, but it's been especially tough for young adults, who are faced with high unemployment rates, rising tuition costs and enormous student loans. But despite these burdens, post-recession young adults carry less debt than older households, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.
From 2007 to 2010 young adults - defined as households headed by those less than 35 years old - shed overall debt 29 percent. In comparison, older households decreased debt by 8 percent.
The key to shedding debt? Spending less.
In a testament to balancing budgets, the amount of young adults carrying credit card debt decreased from 48 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2010, according to the study.
Yet it's not necessarily all sunshine and daisies for young people. There are obvious implications of having less debt - specifically, fewer homes and fewer cars.
The study found that from 2007 to 2011 the amount of young households owning their primary residence decreased from 40 percent to 34 percent. Similarly, the share of people 25 years old and younger who owned or leased at least one vehicle decreased from 73 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2011.
While less debt can signal more financial freedom, it can also signal an inability to take on more debt or, more specifically, less ability (or willingness) to make major purchases, like cars and homes.
"I don't necessarily view this as a good news story. For many kinds of debt, it's secured by things. For example, the biggest kind of debt is your mortgage. The reason they don't have the mortgage debt is they don't have the houses," says Richard Fry, an economist at the Pew Research Center.
He says it's particularly notable that debt for young households has fallen even below where it was over a decade ago.