David Little of Tampa, Florida, obtained his master’s degree in architecture and was excitedly waiting for his girlfriend to finish her degree before the couple moved to Philadelphia. The coronavirus pandemic halted those plans as they both struggled to find work matching their education.
“I have no idea what I’m doing right now. My plans were completely ruined by all of this,” said Little, 26, who was working as a valet before he was laid off in April. “There are no jobs out there even nationwide for entry level architecture grads, there is no real end in sight, and with my girlfriend not having any income because she’s also in architecture, it’s causing tension that wouldn’t normally be there.”
Like many young people, Little has been hit hard by the economic collapse in the wake of Covid-19. He’s uncertain of what will happen when his unemployment benefits run out at the end of this year, no longer has health insurance after turning 26 this year, and has already racked up significant credit card debt to cover bills over the past few months.
Before the pandemic, younger people in America were already making substantially less money than older generations, even compared with when those older people were young. In 1989, baby boomers controlled 21% of the nation’s wealth; millennials controlled just 5% of the nation’s wealth in 2019.
And coronavirus has made life worse.
From spring 2019 to spring 2020, unemployment among adults ages 16 to 24 increased from 8.4% to 24.4%, compared with an increase of 2.8% to 11.3% for adults 25 and older. Young Black (29.6%), Hispanic (27.5%), and Asian American (29.7%) workers are experiencing even higher rates of unemployment. One-third of young Americans in the current labor market are classified as underemployed.
Lane Klumb, 24, of Winona, Minnesota, was furloughed from his job in retail in March 2020 and wasn’t recalled until October, for a seasonal position.
“Between all the bills I accumulated during my furlough, I am still currently paying off credit cards, as I needed to max all of my cards out just to pay my bills and have food,” he said.
Shortly after returning to work, Klumb had to quarantine due to exposure to a colleague who had tested positive for coronavirus, but Klumb received no pay for the time he missed because he did not test positive. Through all of this, he is still trying to afford tuition fees at Winona State University to complete his degree.
“Bills don’t just stop coming in because you’re unemployed and you make less than you did before,” said 23-year-old Alyssa Desmore, a full-time college student in Oxnard, California, who currently lives with her parents and receives only $98 per week in unemployment benefits while waiting to be recalled to her job at a local school district. “I have no idea when I’ll be able to…
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