Many millennials haven’t recovered from the Great Recession. The coronavirus pandemic is a second devastating blow.
Some experts warned that the next economic downturn could really hammer millennials.
The prediction is coming true right before our eyes, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Born between 1981 and 1996 (24 to 39 years old now), many millennials entered the workforce smack in the middle of the Great Recession (2007-09) and haven’t fully recovered, setting back their financial futures for decades. Many are saddled with student debt, are paying skyrocketing rents and are stuck in gig economy jobs.
Now, in what should be the prime of building their careers and finances, they’re facing the second “once-in-a-lifetime” economic implosion of their lives. It’s terrible timing that almost certainly cements that millennials will become the first generation in American history to be worse off than their parents.
As a story this week in The Atlantic points out, millennials are disproportionately in the restaurant and retail jobs that are disappearing during the coronavirus shutdown. “It’s a cruel economic version of that old Catskill resort joke: These are terrible jobs, and now all the young people holding them are getting fired,” the article says.
In a survey by Valley Vision, nearly 60% of 18- to 39-year-olds in the Sacramento area said they were doing some gig work. In the Sacramento region and California, the jobless rate is projected to spike to 20% by May.
California is home to the most millennials of any state, about 10 million. A study by Young Invincibles, a national advocacy group for 18- to 34-year-olds, found that they were the hardest hit of any generation in the state by the Great Recession.
UPDATE: On April 21, the group called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue an executive order allowing college students who live off-campus to get out of their leases without penalty. “We are seeking to proactively avoid young people who graduate college having to enter adulthood with damaged credit, poor rental history, or — even worse — eviction,” the letter says.
Young Invincibles is urging millennials to get more involved in politics—and to elect those who understand their problems. Many were among the younger and more progressive voters who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. Monday, he officially endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee.
For his part, Biden has been reaching out to Sanders supporters by adopting some Sanders campaign pledges. Biden has already agreed to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour and to forgive student debt for those earning as much as $125,000 who attended public colleges or historically black universities.
Also, he and Sanders are creating task forces to seek common ground on policies on climate change, criminal justice, the economy, education, health care and immigration.
Sanders backers did not unite behind Hillary Clinton in 2016—a significant factor in her defeat by Donald Trump.
In 2020, it would be smart for Biden to do all he can to win over millennials in particular. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic damage, they’ll be looking for a reason to vote in November—and a candidate to support.