- Gen Z and millennials are faring the worst in the coronavirus recession.
- Their unemployment rates stand at 18.5% and 11.5% as of July, respectively, per St. Louis Fed data.
- That’s higher than the 10% unemployment rate in 2009 at the peak of the Great Recession.
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Young adults are getting slammed by the coronavirus recession.
More than half (52%) of Americans under age 45 said they lost jobs, lost hours, or were put on leave in May, a report by Data for Progress found. And 60% of those ages 18 to 34 said their household income was affected for the worse, a July Bankrate and YouGov survey revealed.
That includes being laid off or furloughed, receiving a pay cut, working on reduced hours, and being unable to operate their business as usual.
July unemployment data from the St. Louis Fed, seen in the chart below, underscores these survey findings. While unemployment rates for all generations peaked in April and have been on the decline since, Gen Z and millennials are the worst affected.
In April, Gen Z, defined as those ages 16 to 24, was hit hardest with an unemployment rate of nearly 27%. Silent Gen, the post-65 age group, was next in line with a 15.6% unemployment rate. The group of Silents still in the labour force is significantly smaller than that of other generations, which is one reason this was so high, although ageism might be keeping them out of work in a depressed job market.
Millennials, those ages 25 to 34 in the data, weren’t far behind, seeing a 14.3% unemployment rate.
Fast forward to July, and all generations have experienced declining unemployment rates, but the youngest two are still faring badly: Gen Z has an 18.5% unemployment rate and millennials an 11.5% unemployment rate, although the steady decline for the latter appears to be slowing down.
For comparison, both of these unemployment rates are still higher than the 10% unemployment rate in 2009 at the peak of the Great Recession. All older generations, per the chart, currently have unemployment rates below this level.
It’s worth noting that recessions typically hit young adults hardest in the short term. But millennial history with the Great Recession could signal bad news for both of these generations.
Millennials have been dealing with a nationwide affordability crisis since the Great Recession ended, balancing increasing living costs and massive student-loan debt with stagnating wages. That means they’re already financially behind as they stare down their second recession before their oldest members hit 40.
And their history could serve as a forewarning of what’s to come for Gen Z, who is graduating into an even more dismal job market than millennials did.