The Economic Effects of COVID-19 on Young People

Corey Seemiller
Apr 22, 2020 · 3 min read

In an attempt to address and mitigate the pandemic, along with the measures put in place to slow the spread, nearly the entire global economy is at a standstill. With the exception of companies like Walmart, Amazon, or Zoom, business is far from booming. Most are limiting services or are shut down altogether. The collective impact is grand, but the individual effect on personal economies is staggering as well. Those living with little earnings or little savings are stretched to the brink, worrying about day-to-day expenses just to live and be safe. And, for Generation Z (born 1995–2010), this is quite stark. Their concerns around finances and worry about economic instability are certainly pronounced now as they witness individuals clamoring for any financial relief they can get.


Consider, that many older members of Generation Z have no idea where their income will be coming from. Unemployment numbers are similar to those that occurred during the Great Depression, and a disproportionately higher number of young people have lost their jobs. Not only are younger people in entry-level, retail, and hospitality jobs, which have been cut, many of those planning to launch their careers in other industries are facing downsized organizations with hiring freezes.

While many are being laid off, furloughed, or just not yet employed, perhaps the gig economy, which was already an interest for 81% of Gen Zers, becomes a more permanent viable draw for this young generation. Those who end up doing contract work to get by now may find that they simply stay in the freelance economy once employment opportunities resurface, either because they enjoy it or have built their own brand and business.


Even those who are not fully in the job market yet are being exposed to alternatives in education and work that could shape the economy for years to come. Generation Z students, both those living at home and older ones sheltering-in-place with family, are spending countless hours in front of a computer screen for schoolwork. Will this generation relish in the eventual move back to in-person schooling or will there be a newfound interest in online education? While many Generation Z kids miss the in-person interaction with and attention from their teachers, many enjoy having the flexibility of online learning where they can direct their own work and take breaks as needed. At the college level, there is speculation that we may see a rise in Gen Zers taking online classes. Those who may have been hesitant before have now been thrust into mandatory distance learning where they may have come to realize that it is not as anxiety provoking as once thought. Given this rise in exposure to online education, it seems plausible that this generation may be drawn to remote work in the future for the same reasons they like it as students.

Financial Decision-Making

Known as the recession kids, this generation has now been privy to two significant economic downturns, making the notion of an unpredictable economy and unstable stock market more on the normal side. Does this fiscally conservative generation want to take a chance on a new job that may have less security in the face of a recession or risk their future savings or retirement funds in a volatile stock market?

If we thought Generation Z was risk-averse before, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make conservative economic decisions while keeping money in the coffers for all the future crises they see looming.

Continue reading the remainder of articles in this series:

1. How COVID-19 Could Change a Generation Forever
2. The Political Effects of COVID-19 on Young People
3. The Economic Effects of COVID-19 on Young People-you are reading this article
4. The Psychological Effects of COVID-19 on Young People
5. The Sociological Effects of COVID-19 on Young People
6. The Social Effects of COVID-19 on Young People

The Gen Z Hub

Stay up to date on the latest on Generation Z and politics…

The Gen Z Hub

Stay up to date on the latest on Generation Z and politics, the economy, jobs, education, technology, health, and relationships.

Corey Seemiller

Written by

Dr. Corey Seemiller is an award-winning professor and author of four books on Generation Z, including Generation Z: A Century in the Making.

The Gen Z Hub

Stay up to date on the latest on Generation Z and politics, the economy, jobs, education, technology, health, and relationships.

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