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Younger workers are hit hardest in the coronavirus job market, and it spells bad news for millennials and Gen Z

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The economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately impacting younger workers the most.

More than half (52%) of respondents under age 45 have lost jobs, lost hours, or been put on leave, according to a recent report by Data for Progress which surveyed 2,644 likely voters in the US. That's compared to 26% of those over age 45 who suffered the same economic consequences. 

That's bad news for millennials, those who turn ages 24 to 39 in 2020. Many entered a job market blighted by the Great Recession. Fewer jobs available, coupled with higher entry-level work and education requirements, delayed their ability to find a career foothold.

"The way a recession can really hurt people just starting out can have lasting effects," Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist and the director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, previously told Business Insider. "There's a lot of evidence that the first postgrad job you get sets the stage in some important way for later."

Research has found that people who enter the workforce during a downturn can earn less for up to 15 years compared with people who graduate during times of prosperity. Instead of sending millennials into greater responsibility and higher income potential, early roles launched many into career uncertainty and lower income paths, trickling down into their ability to build wealth. 

Many are still financially behind 12 years after the financial crisis, and now they're suffering another blow to their careers and wages.

It's a problem for Gen Z, too

The dismal job market also bears bad news for Gen Z, the oldest of whom turn 23 this year and are just starting to enter the workforce.

Young people are often working in industries such as retail and hospitality, which have already seen massive disruptions due to government shutdowns, reported Business Insider's Dominic-Madori Davis

The coronavirus pandemic could be sending the country into another generation-defining recession, she wrote, by completely derailing Gen Z's careers. They could potentially find themselves on the same path as older millennials who graduated into the 2008 financial crisis.

If Gen Z does graduate into a recession, it could add to the many burdens they were already set to face — like skyrocketing living costs and massive student debt.

"There's [always] a certain anxiety that comes with finding a job. But with this all coming on, it's just tenfold," Matthew Phillips, a senior at the University of Southern California, told Davis. "We have no idea what's going on. There's just so much unknown on top of what's already, you know, the big unknown after graduating from college."

SEE ALSO: Millennials came limping out of the Great Recession with massive student debt and crippled finances. Here's what the generation is up against if the coronavirus triggers another recession.

DON'T MISS: 5 ways coronavirus is changing millennials' money habits more than any other generation

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