Twenty-somethings—known alternately as Generation Y, Millennials and Echo Boomers—are struggling under a mountain of debt averaging $45,000, according to a survey released today by The PNC Financial Services Group Inc. 

The survey found that the debt of twenty-somethings increases as they move into their late 20s, with debt levels averaging $12,000 for 20- to 21-year-olds and $78,000 for 28- to 29-year-olds. Meanwhile, the portion of income saved declines as they grow older, the survey found. 

“Twenty-somethings are challenged with a balancing act between saving for the future and paying down their debt,” Shannon Johnson, director of PNC’s consumer checking and rewards, said in a statement.

More than half of the survey participants reported holding education debt throughout their twenties. After education loans—the most frequently reported type of debt—survey participants reported credit card debt, car loans and mortgages.

Surprisingly, most survey participants (94%) said that they save money either on a regular basis (51%) or when they can (43%).  More, however, are saving for the short-term with 53% saving for a big purchase and 41% saving for a trip in the next 12 months.  Only 38% say they are saving for retirement.

Most 20-somethings put off thinking about funding retirement until they’re approaching 30, according to the findings. Only 13% of 20- to 21-year-olds report saving for retirement, compared with nearly 50% of 28- to 29-year-olds. 

The survey, which was commissioned by PNC, polled 2,000 adults ages 20 – 29 in the U.S. from July 22 to July 27, 2011. It was designed and managed by Artemis Strategy Group.

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