By Kirsten Salyer

In today's economy, pity the young. That's the message of Thursday's Pew Research Center survey, which shows that 41 percent of the public believe young adults are having the toughest time.

For adults age 18 to 24, this is not your father's job market. The portion of  that age bracket currently employed, 54 percent, is the lowest since 1948, and the employment gap between young and all working-age adults, 15 percentage points, is the widest recorded, according to the December survey.

Of those surveyed, 49 percent aged 18 to 34 said they have taken a job they didn't want, and 24 percent said they have taken an unpaid job to gain experience. Young adults have also experienced the greatest drop in earnings, down 6 percent, in the last four years.

One of the survey's most striking numbers, as Kevin Drum notes, is the 24 percent of young adults who have moved back in with their parents after living on their own. (As a member of the age-18-to-34 club who hasn't moved back home, Mom and Dad, you're welcome.)

But despite these numbers, the survey shows that young adults are more optimistic than older generations. Only 9 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds said they don’t think they will ever have enough to live the life they want, compared to 28 percent of those 35 and older. It isn't quantified in the survey, but this optimistic attitude surely counts for something.

(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor of Bloomberg View.)

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-0- Feb/10/2012 14:17 GMT