A record 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment in the last week of March 2020 — and while that data isn’t broken down by age, it’s clear that young Americans are fearful of losing their jobs. In fact, according to a YouGov/Economist poll taken between March 29 and March 31, Americans between 18–29 are more likely than older Americans to be very worried about losing their job. About 1 in 5 Americans under 30 are very worried, 32 percent are somewhat worried, and about half are not very worried.
However, young people appear to be more hopeful about their job prospects: When asked how difficult they thought it would be to find a job that paid as much as they were currently making, that same age group had more faith than older Americans in their ability to find a job without taking a pay cut. That relative optimism speaks to its own problem, however: Millennials tend to make around 20 percent less than baby boomers did at the same stage in life, according to an October 2019 report – and that was before the coronavirus pandemic decimated the work landscape.
Now, a record number of Americans are applying for unemployment benefits in the midst of the COVID-19-fueled public health crisis that has led political leaders to have all non-essential workers work from home, slowing the economy in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Many economists say the number of those who are unemployed is even higher than the reported statistics, due to newly unemployed Americans who haven’t been able to file claims yet, the New York Times reports.
We’ll know more once March’s official unemployment numbers are released by the United States government later this month, though this report will not reflect differences in unemployment by age. The February unemployment numbers, which were reported before the coronavirus swept the nation into an economic stupor, showed that the nation’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. Young people’s unemployment was slightly higher than the national average, ranging from 3.7 percent for Americans aged 25–34 years old to 12 percent for Americans aged 18–19. The Washington Post reports that the national average has likely jumped from 3.5 percent in February to 10 percent in March, where at least 10 million people so far have applied for unemployment assistance.
According to the Washington Post, more people have filed for unemployment claims in the past two weeks than they did during the entire first six months of the Great Recession in 2008. Americans have lost jobs in the restaurant, hotel, gym, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, and travel industries, as businesses shut down across the nation — many of those industries are fueled by young workers.