Young people across the United States are losing their jobs right now, due to the coronavirus and the resulting economic instability that has rocked the country. As a whole, 22 million American residents have filed for unemployment since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, the Washington Post reported.
This marks the largest number of job losses since the Great Depression, a staggering economic reality that has forced young people — many of whom are making their way into the workforce now or came into the workforce during the 2008 financial crisis — to reconsider their livelihoods. 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.
While the unemployment filings data for April is not broken down by age, a YouGov/MTV News poll found that about half of millennials and Gen X say that they have lost some kind of income, whether that is a full-time job, a part-time job, or a freelance gig, since the coronavirus outbreak started. And they’re not as confident as their older counterparts that they’ll be able to pay for health care for the next six months, a desperately needed protection during a pandemic, the poll showed.
This comes after an Axios-Harris survey from March 30 showed that 31 percent of respondents between 18–34 had either been laid off or put on temporary leave because of the outbreak, compared with 22 percent of those 35–49 and 15 percent of those 50–64. A YouGov/Economist poll taken between March 29 and March 31 showed that 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. Millennials stood to make 20 percent less than baby boomers did at the same stage in life before the coronavirus pandemic decimated the work landscape in the U.S.
One of the reasons these numbers have skyrocketed is due to political leaders requiring that all non-essential workers work from home in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Many economists say the number of those who are unemployed is even higher than the reported statistics, which are not inclusive of Americans who haven’t yet been able to file claims or who have lost jobs that were freelance or project-based, thereby making them ineligible for many unemployment benefits, the New York Times reports.
But even if young people can’t apply for traditional unemployment benefits, many are eligible for a government check of up to $1,2000, provided by the recently passed $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package, which may be able to help them in the next few weeks. The added benefits from the CARES Act likely won’t be enough to carry people through the entirety of this global pandemic, though, which has resulted in many people, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) hoping the government will take even more steps to ensure people have what they need.