Covid-19: The effect of a Global Pandemic on Generation-Z

A year into this global pandemic and folks of all ages and demographics continue to endure numerous hardships. As people are getting sick and some dying along with waves of small businesses closing, people losing their jobs, and students paying tens of thousands of dollars for an online education our society continues to bear a heavy load with no definitive timeline. And while we've all suffered one way or another, Generation Z is facing its biggest obstacle yet that could shape its future for decades to come. On an economic, social, and political level, the core concern resides in uncertainty; Zoomers grow more anxious as many of their professional and non-professional prospects remain in jeopardy.

Job Hunting in a Crippled Economy

With the online ceremony over and the diploma received by mail, the later batch of Gen Z readies itself for a crippled economy and a devastated job market.

The impact of Covid-19 has been felt by all industries but some suffered more than others, notably the hospitality industry. As businesses big and small tighten their belts to absorb the pandemic's blows, the little man is quickly deemed disposable and left to collect stimulus checks.

Meanwhile, young professionals experience higher barriers-of-entry as few businesses are hiring in an economy with record-high unemployment. Having to compete for entry-level jobs (usually matched for recent grads) with much more older and more experienced individuals, Zoomers are against all odds. Not to mention most entry-level positions expect between 3-5 years experience in a related field to be considered competitive, rendering the notion of entry-level rather absurd. Moreover, and similarly to older millennials entering the job market during the 2008 recession, Zoomers can expect to have significant cuts in earning potential upon landing their first job, something expected to carry over throughout their professional careers.

These cascading effects not only leave Zoomers unemployed but also unable to chip away at their numerous payments. Between student debt payments, rent, utilities, and cell phone plans, to name a few, Zoomers are left to amass more debt with no consistent flow of income. This pandemic has allowed us to witness the good in people and witness the worst. Specifically, concerning corporations and establishments such as banks that refuse to suspend debt payments with high interest or universities unwilling to reduce tuition fees for education as effective as watching videos on YouTube. Meanwhile, large corporations operating under high-profit margins; continue to receive considerable stimulus packages while undercutting any competition from smaller businesses. No wonder why Zoomers are less trusting of their governments and gravitate towards ethical consumerism.

A Strain on Mental Health and Social Bonds

Zoomers understand the measures that have to be employed to minimize the spread of Covid-19. They sympathize with older generations who are more at risk but can't help but feel a little cheated. Notably, younger Zoomers don't want to attribute blame to anyone, but as they spend day after day stuck at home unable to see their friends outside of school hours, their social lives seem to be on standby.

Meanwhile, Zoomers that are either entering or already in university feel even more socially limited than ever. This is in large part due to most classes being online and with student residences, common areas, and sports facilities being temporarily closed. Many members of this young generation rely on university as the formative years to important friendships and key social bonds. Additionally, many bars and other social venues have either closed their doors or heavily altered their schedules per government demands. These series of events bear a heavy toll on Zoomers' social ability as well as their mental well being.

Without the ability to effectively socialize and partake in social activities like sports, going to the bar, or simply hanging out with friends, many Zoomers fall victim to depression. Lack of social stimulus coupled with an inability to find work renders this generation quite vulnerable. This issue is also present amongst other generations, sometimes leading to increases in substance abuse, self-harm, and domestic disruption. Moreover, the pandemic is expected to heavily influence the development of younger Zoomers who witness all their peers and teachers abiding by social distancing while wearing masks. These measures are indeed necessary, but their impact will be vast and influential in how this young generation grows, interacts, and perceives the world for years to come.

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