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Mikaela Turner, 23, of Chicago, was looking for an apartment and had just been promoted to culinary manager in early March when COVID-19 struck. She was laid off and is now living in Virginia with her parents.

“I was finally getting on my feet after working two jobs that were super stressful,” Turner said. “I was two checks away from not having to worry about my finances.”

Gen Z and young Millennials have been the most vulnerable to layoffs during the coronavirus health crisis. That’s because they are more likely to be low-income, hourly workers without employer-sponsored benefits. And, based on prior economic downturns, they will have the most difficulty reconnecting once the job market rebounds.


Talent development accelerator LeadersUp created a survey to gain insights into how COVID-19 is impacting the next generation of diverse talent. We received responses from 551 young adults ages 16-30 that were presented in the special report “Amplifying the Voices of the Next Generation of At-Risk Talent,” Part I of the LeadersUp “Flatten the Curve, Bridge the Divide Insights Series.” Here’s what they told us.



Key Findings


The majority (73%) say they are worried about their quality of life, their mental well-being (60%) and accessing healthcare (54%) in their time of need. However, most of their concerns center around their ability to earn money. Sixty-two percent have already been laid off due to COVID-19 or concerned they will be.


More than half (52%) were in co-living situations

They’re living with their parents, their children, or friends and contribute to the overall household income. Labor market disconnection could mean significant loss of household income impacting co-living situations.


Young People are Concerned About the Ability to Work and Pay Bills

Some economists are predicting unemployment could reach upwards of 30%.

  • 7 in 10 youth and young adults desire to work yet are concerned or very concerned about being able to work.


A Good Paying Job is the Key to Happiness and Fulfillment

  • Most said landing a good job with benefits would solve 70% or more of their problems.

Most Low-Income Workers Are Not Receiving Any Type of Public Assistance

  • More than half of our survey respondents (approximately 60%), have not received any public support at all.

They are Optimistic About Landing a Job in the Future

Though it may be misplaced optimism . . .

  • 76% believe they will find a job between 1–6 months

  • 11% believe they will find a job in less than one month

Where Would Young People Turn In Time of Need

Not surprisingly, after family and friends, young people are most likely to turn to community organizations and government agencies if they found themselves in need during the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • They are least likely to turn to schools, employers and faith-based organizations.

Download the full report for free.