Young Americans Claim the Pandemic Hindered their Financial Independence
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and has sickened millions. It is one of the most debilitating crises that the United States has ever faced. In addition, it is one of the most protracted and there is no definite end in sight. The fear and panic caused by the pandemic has upended the nation’s economy. Millions of people have been negatively affected through no fault of their own. Due to the structure and nature of the American economy, this process has affected Millennials and Gen Zers the most. These Americans have had to deal with unemployment on a scale they could not have imagined in 2019. Societal changes will be required to help these individuals get back on their feet.
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The other is the continued uncertainty among millions of Americans as to the disease’s effects. Even if it is legal for a large number of businesses to operate, many Americans still do not want to leave their homes. They know that staying at home as much as they can is the best way to contain the spread of the virus. As a result, they have not been spending nearly as much as they did in previous months and years.
The result of these situations has been an attack on the finances of Millennials and Gen Zers. These men and women have been forced off out of whatever economic security they had before. In the vast majority of companies, layoffs affect the most recent employees to be hired. Millennials and Gen Zers are the youngest generations in the economy and are therefore the most likely to have been recently hired. This dynamic means that they are also disproportionately affected by the layoff process. Millennials and Gen Zers are also mostly stuck in service jobs. This dynamic results from the nature of the knowledge economy and the nation’s skewed work structure. In many fields, individuals can only gain full-time jobs if they have some sort of experience in the field. This experience can only be gained by working internships and part-time jobs.
Since these jobs are often not enough to pay a person’s considerable expenses, they have to work service jobs to pick up the slack. These service jobs often require individuals to interact in a close proximity to one another. People are attracted to jobs at restaurants and bars because those jobs involve the possibility of high incomes through tips. Many of these locations are precisely the spots where the coronavirus can spread. As a result, businesses have been shuttered and workers have been laid off. This scenario does not encompass the thousands of business that have simply went bankrupt because they already had debt problems before the pandemic began.
Fewer jobs and lower pay means a loss of financial independence. Millennials and Gen Zers have had to go into debt to pay their bills and to simply stay in their homes. Many individuals have had to make the painful choice to move back into their parents’ homes. This decision has caused a great deal of stress and anxiety for both Millennials and Gen Zers along with their family members. Some people have had to put their entire life plans on hold as the country battles this virus.
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What to do
There are a handful of steps that can be taken in order to help these Americans and others with their current financial troubles. First, the federal government needs to step in and continue its earlier spending programs. There needs to be a compromise between Democrats and Republicans that leads to an expansion of unemployment insurance and continued funding for companies so they do not lay off workers.
Continued spending by the federal government will lead to more money for consumer spending and a reduction in the number of people who are evicted from their homes. In addition, Millennials and Gen Zers need to think wisely about how they spend their income and stimulus money in a pandemic. They need to save as much as they can, prioritize their 401k, and reduce spending to a pittance until the country starts to turn around again.
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Individuals who are affected by the pandemic are in for a rough few months. Although the rate will slow down, there will continue to be layoffs. Companies are still uncertain about how they will combat the virus and its effects. Hopefully, the recent drop in cases and research into vaccines and antiviral treatments will help Millennials and Gen Zers finally start to recover from this crisis.
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