Millennials, Gen Zers say pandemic has derailed their financial independence

The coronavirus pandemic has abruptly upended Aidan Curran’s life this summer.

In early July, the 24-year-old got laid off from his job as an associate at a public relations firm in Washington, D.C. Before he lost his position, he was temporarily staying with his parents in Cape Cod because his office wasn’t going to reopen until Labor Day. But now he’s stuck paying nearly $1,400 in rent each month for an apartment he’s not living in. And his lease isn’t up until January.

He hasn’t received any money from unemployment over the past month, and still hasn’t gotten a stimulus check from the spring.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” says Curran, who had plans to attend law school but put those dreams on hold. “I keep applying for jobs, but have yet to get an interview. It’s tough to find a job that doesn’t already have a ton of applicants.” Curran, like millions of other Americans, is facing an uncertain future as policymakers in Washington remain at odds over another stimulus package after the additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expired in July.

“It’s unfortunate that both Republicans and Democrats can’t come to a solution to help people like me,” says Curran, who is paying off student debt from his undergraduate degree. “The failure to get any unemployment because of the dilapidated and antiquated unemployment system has been a mess. I could really use that extra $600 right now.” The coronavirus pandemic has created a new set of financial obstacles for young millennials and Gen Zers. Most are unsure how their generations can navigate through the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s. About 59% of young Americans say the pandemic has derailed their goal of becoming financially independent from family or other support, according to a new report by The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade.

“Even before the economic downturn, young Americans generally had anxiety about their finances due to stagnant wages, the rising cost of living and debt burdens. Now that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic,” says Keith Denerstein, director of investment products and guidance at TD Ameritrade. “But there’s no shame in turning to your parents or family for additional support.”

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