Millennials and Generation Z Hit Hardest by Unemployment


In the pandemic, millennials and Gen Z were clobbered hard with job losses.

Millennials and Generation Z Hit Hard

  • In 2020 Millennials were 24 to 39 years old.
  • In 2020 Generation Z 8-23 years old.
  • In 2020 Generation X was 40 to 55 years old.
  • In 2020 Boomers were 56-74 years old.
Unemployment by Age Group 2020-11 Table

Unemployment by Age Group 2000-Present

Unemployment by Age Group 2000-present 2020-11

Millennials Hit Hard in Great Recession 

  • In 2009 Millennials were 13 to 28 years old.
  • In 2009 Generation X was 29 to 44 years old.
  • In 2009 Boomers were 45-63 years old.

This is the second time in about 10 years that millennials were hard hit by recessions.


Comments (47)
No. 1-15

Millennials and Z will continue to be hit hardest because we're never going back to "normal" again, at least not as it was known pre-2008.

We're 12 years into this grand monetary experiment of QE forever and the cracks in the facade are getting more obvious. Setting up a system designed to widen inequality and punish savers has consequences, after all!


Doing my best to read that graph:
Age 16-19: Up 25%, from 12% to 15%
Age 20-24: Up 57%, from 7% to 11%.
Age 25-34: Up 87%, from 4% to 7.5%
Age 35+: Up 100%, from 3% to 6%


Last I noticed, young people work retail and restaurants a lot.


Although I do not live in the US, I suspect the labour market there is similar to where I live. In spite of the pandemic, and the subsequent economic turmoil, many business cannot find workers with the education, skills and qualifications needed. There are still shortages of skilled labour. Part of the solution to unemployment is to help people acquire the necessary skills. The charity I work with provides such skills training. Yet it is a drop in the bucket vs the ocean of need.

The best way to a decent paying job is to make sure you acquire the necessary skills.

The old days are gone. Unions will not be able to negotiate high wages for low skilled workers when many can be replaced with automation.

Competition is global, whether you like it or not. You can’t close off your country to competition as Trump promised. Tariffs and trade barriers don’t protect you, they weaken you.

Minimum wage laws, and Universal Basic Income programs, while helpful in the short term, and well meaning, also weaken your country in the long run.

There are no easy answers. All each individual can do is to make sure they acquire as many skills as possible , and never stop learning throughout their lifetime.

I see far too many who seemed to think that they didn’t need to learn any more, once they finished school. That is not true.

Reality is that you can never stop learning. Your ability to earn a decent income depends on it.


Lots of people have skills but can't find employment using them, so either are unemployed or forced to take low skill jobs. Seems like a recipe for ongoing social unrest unless more substatively addressed. Great the problem is being recognized, but what is needed are solutions. I don't think the private sector will adequately solve our current under and unmployment issue.
Unemployment insurance is good for short term job loss when labour market is healthy, but doesn't address longer term structural unemployment issues. Same for UBI. They both result in increased dependency.
A federal job guarantee program would get people back to work contributing meaningfully to society and earning their keep as opposed to relying on handouts.


Nzyank, and jfpersona1. Yes. There are an infinite number of different skills that can be acquired and there is only so much time. It is up to each individual to choose which skills they think are best suited for them to pursue based on their circumstances.

Yes. Many people with skills are unemployed. Again, that is reality. I never implied that skills are a guarantee to a good job. What I stated was the reality that having no skills is certainly going to make it increasingly impossible to acquire and retain a decent job.

When I talk with employers who are looking for workers, I have yet to meet one that says “I’m looking for people with no skills”.

Who should do the training? Well, who would benefit from having more gainfully employed skilled workers? Governments, businesses, and the workers themselves.

Sadly, everyone wants someone else to be responsible for paying for training. That’s why I am involved with a charity that provides training, free of charge, for individuals. Our funding comes from all sources including government, businesses and individuals. As i said, our efforts are a drop in the bucket of need.

Finally, the wealthiest countries in the world are the ones where government and business put a heavy emphasis on educating their citizens, for the lowest cost possible. But ultimately, it requires individuals who are willing to learn. You cant teach someone who doesn’t want to learn. Therefore, it is a combined effort.


economics truly is a disgrace
This is very personal post. It is my story of the retaliation I suffered immediately after my “economics is a disgrace” blog post went viral. The retaliation came from Heather Boushey–a recent Biden appointee to the Council of Economic Adviser and the President and CEO of Equitable Growth where I then worked. This is not the story I wanted to be telling (or living). Writing this post is painful. I am sorry.


My geezer rant on this...

First of all, when the parents tell their children that they can be whatever they want to be, that is not true for the great majority of the kids out there. A rationality as to desires as opposed to opportunities post-graduation needs to occur.

Second, there is no consideration of the return for effort and money in pursuing a degree (the guy in Taibbi story has some hazy plan starting out with philosophy, and ends up with a 28K job).

Third, college is for many a rolling party bus for 5 years while living in a newer apartment at exorbident rates where that spending is rolled into student debt.

Fourth, there is an extreme, distainful reluctance for some parents of students and students to actually do a job anytime prior to leaving college, so work life and its pitfalls is not experienced by a big proportion of college students.

Fifth, especially astounding, is how many students never take internship opportunities in ther desired field to see what working in that situation would actually be.

Sixth, if there are no internship opportunities in your chosen field, this should be big clue that the there are not any potential employers seeking your talents and you will probably end up at the wanting end of the stick after graduation.

Seventh, new opportunities usually exist in new places. A willingness to relocate is an essential part of a better future.

Eighth, there is no shame in physical labor and some of the best paying jobs and benefits are found with jobs that require some (or a lot) of physical work of actually getting something done.

A personal anecdote or two--my son was really intereted in history and travelling and outdoors. With lots of back and forth, he surprisingly decided he wanted to go into mining engineering. He got a scholarship to the highest rated school in the field, but lost the scholarship with an unfortunate encounter with calculus 3. He then went to the 3rd rated school which was a 1/3 of the cost and finished there. He was on internships at different sites every summer for 3 years and managed to graduate in the depth of a mining recession. He had gotten a decent, but not great, offer from a large underground construction company the fall of his senior year which he accepted, and has moved from that company, to one of the companies he interned with, then to another underground construction company that is redoing mines and tunnels from the 1880's throughout the west. So, 4 years on, he ends with travel, history and outdoors, makes about 100K a year plus per diem plus a vehicle. And is always being cold-called by head-hunters. It's a slice of the working world that worked for him, but it also has drawbacks like sometimes not the best accomodations, working with pretty sketchy laborers, hard physical effort sometimes, and schedules like 12 hour days and 10 days on 5 days off.

One kid he roomed with was in the 3rd year, going to be an electrical engineer, but my son had to actually show him how to buy and replace a light bulb that had burned out.

There were always internships available in his field, but it was surprising how many ddn't take advantage of it--a significant portion of the mining engineer graduates find they don't like the underground aspects of the work--imagine that!


Well, it's nice that, for the first time, Gen X isn't getting boned.


Another 'donut day' in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam:

  • 0 domestic cases
  • 0 deaths

Wouldn't our economic future be brighter if that were closer to the case here?


This story hits home. The kid graduated with a STEM degree right into the teeth of the epidemic. Not one interview even by phone. Doesn't count as unemployed either. What few few employers are looking for new hires all want the magic five years of experience.


I actually have very hard-working millennial children, all of who have masters degrees in some field that fits their talents and interests. Some of them were successful making a living in the gig economy before COVID. That took a huge hit.

The youngest, who lives in NYC and was hit hardest by the lockdowns when the restaurants and bars closed, has turned to entrepreneurship. She is making heirloom quality hand-made cards...real works of art with hand-written calligraphy..... made me think of Steve Jobs.

My daughter-in-law, a glass-blower (MFA from SCIA) has her own website and a waiting list to get her art.

The teacher is working....working so hard....schools here are being forced to be open for people who want to be there in person.....but teachers are doubly tasked with teaching those online who don’t want to attend in person. It’s incredibly onerous.

My son is traveling on a photo shoot to create the spring catalog for a major niche retailer whose name you and brick-and-mortar presence.

One is working for me while she is applying to med her mid 30’s....when I lose her I’ll be scrambling......I’ve come to depend on her a lot. In addition to my practice, I have a small side business I built......what my friend Michael Phillips used to call a “briar patch business”...she is running that, and helping my practice. She is also an acupuncturist with a masters in Chinese Medicine.

I’m not sure who these lazy, over-indulged millennials and Gen Zer’s are that you geezers talk about. They aren’t in my family.


Great to hear positive anecdotal stories about retraining, and I agree this is the mindset that those that have lost jobs should have. I am skeptical that this will address the larger problem however. There are too many that will not succeed on their own at navigating a challenging job market, or will be forced economically to work at jobs they are unhappy with.
I attribute Trump's rise to similar long-term environment after the GFC where many were unhappy with their economic outlook. Continuing to tell people to retrain will not go over well. What is needed is a significant boost in the supply of jobs beyond what the private sector currently has capacity to deliver.

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