Only a little more than a year out of school, the millennium's first college graduates report that the impact of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has triggered adjustments to their hopes and aspirations. Still optimistic, these members of the Millennium Generation (or Generation 2001) say they've also come to believe the attacks have had a significant impact on the nation's economy and how they view their job security and financial future, according to a Harris Interactive® survey commissioned by Northwestern Mutual.

"We've been following this group since 1997, and we've conducted four separate surveys," said Deanna L. Tillisch, director of the Generation 2001 study for Northwestern Mutual. "As college freshmen, we found this group to be alive with idealism, optimism and a vision of a better world. As college seniors ready to face this world, this group was extremely confident and career-minded. Immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, their confidence and optimism hardly waned. But, a year after the attacks, the members of Generation 2001 are telling us the effects of the attack are having an impact."

The survey of more than 500 adults who graduated from college in 2001 revealed:

  -- 70 percent now say that the attacks had a major impact on the economy
     compared with just over half (58 percent) in October 2001.
  -- 21 percent (vs. 16 percent in October 2001) say the attacks had a major
     impact on their job security.
  -- 26 percent (vs. 17 percent) say the attacks had a major impact on
     planning their financial future.
  -- 93 percent believe they will someday get to where they want to be in
     life (which is consistent with the October study); 80 percent have
     established goals for the next five years (also consistent with the
     previous post-9/11 study).

"What's happening is that these members of Millennium 2001 are facing the hard realities of how much life has changed since they received their diplomas," Tillisch said. "We should remember, when they graduated in 2001, the world was a different place -- our economy was stronger, there were more jobs, there were no hints of corporate scandals and the threat of terrorism wasn't even on their radar.

"In fact," Tillisch noted, "in the spring of 2001, the threat of terrorism was at the bottom of their list of Top 10 concerns. Today, it's No. 4 (preceded in chronological order by concern for the nation's education system, the economy and the country's political leadership)."

Job priorities have also changed for this group, reflecting the realities of the times and the work world. For example, the percentage that believes a high salary is very important has jumped from 15 percent to nearly 37 percent. Congruent with earning a high salary, 83 percent say that a job that looks good on a resume is important, an increase from 77 percent in October 2001. Despite a flagging economy, most Millennium 2001 college graduates are employed, with nearly three out of four (72 percent) employed full-time -- a significant increase from October 2001, when just half (52 percent) reported being employed full-time.

Elsewhere, these members of Millennium 2001 give President Bush a positive job rating, with a majority (59 percent) saying he is doing an excellent or pretty good job. This number is quite similar with the national comparison, where the president receives a 62 percent favorable rating.

Northwestern Mutual, the nation's leading provider of individual life insurance according to A. M. Best, has always received the highest possible ratings for financial strength from Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch, and A. M. Best. In addition to life insurance, the company, its subsidiaries and affiliates are also providers of annuities, mutual funds, long-term care insurance and disability income insurance. These products and services are distributed through the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and its 7,800 financial representatives. Among its affiliated companies are the Frank Russell Company, the investment management and advisory firm; Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), the securities brokerage firm; and Northwestern Mutual Trust Company, a special purpose federal savings bank. Further information on Northwestern Mutual, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, can be found at: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/ .

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SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual

CONTACT: Deanna Tillisch, +1-414-665-2705, or
deannatillisch@northwesternmutual.com , or Jean Towell, +1-414-665-5167, or
jeantowell@northwesternmutual.com , both for Northwestern Mutual

Web site: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/