- A new McKinsey survey finds that Gen Zers don’t feel secure in their jobs, and can’t buy homes.
- The youngest generation in the workforce is more likely to hold multiple jobs or be gig workers.
- It’s not surprising for a particularly pandemic-addled generation.
Gen Zers are financially precarious, worried, and don’t think they’ll ever be able to own a home or retire.
The latest survey of how the youngest generation in the workforce feels shows just how poorly the pandemic-addled group is faring economically. McKinsey surveyed 1,763 Americans ages 18 to 24 for their American Opportunity Survey (AOS), which asked 25,062 American adults about their finances and outlooks between March 15 and April 18.
For Gen Zers, the picture is bleak. A quarter of those surveyed said they were working multiple jobs, far higher than the 16% of all workers who said the same. They were also more likely to be doing “independent work,” which includes freelance, contract, temporary, and gig work, according to the survey. Of those doing independent work, the majority would rather be full-time, non-contract workers.
And of all those workers, many aren’t certain about whether that employment will even stick around: 45% of Gen Zers were concerned about the stability of their employment, compared to 40% of all workers.
That makes sense. In the wake of the pandemic, Gen Z disproportionately bore the brunt of job losses. They became the most unemployed generation. And Gen Zers, whose oldest members are around 25, may have seen key life milestones particularly disrupted by the pandemic. The class of 2020 went from preparing for graduation to Zoom classes from their childhood bedrooms.
That also might be a contributor to one of Gen Z’s biggest struggles at work: Mental health. McKinsey found that about a quarter of Gen Z reports mental-health issues are having a major impact on their ability to effectively work. The majority of Gen Z says they’ve had a diagnosis or treatment for their mental health — but a fifth of them are unable to afford services.
Having to move back in with parents has also become part of Gen Z’s ethos, and maybe even a permanent feature. A June survey from Credit Karma found that 29% of Gen Z was living at home, either with parents or other relatives. Those younger Americans consider it “a long term housing solution” in the wake of rising prices, especially rents. Prices for shelter have shot up, rising by 6.6% year-over-year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index release.
According to McKinsey, 59% of Gen Z does not own or does not expect to own a home, compared to just 29% of 55 to 64-year-olds. Meanwhile, 23% of Gen Z does not expect to retire. Some of them have even given up on saving altogether, saying that the world will be ravaged by the climate crisis before they’re able to log out of work forever.
Even so, the youngest generation of workers is still making their mark on what work and life should look like, with some of them leading the charge to make their lives their 9-5 and work a part-time job. They’re on the frontlines of activism. And, despite all that’s been thrown their way, they’re still more economically optimistic than almost every generation, according to McKinsey.