A 42-per-cent unemployment rate is a hell of a way for young adults to begin their summer.
But that’s their reality in the pandemic. Job-wise, no group has been squashed like twentysomethings. In May, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds returning to school was 42.1 per cent.
It has always been true that having parental help is a big factor in achieving financial success in life. Now, with unemployment rampant among young adults, it’s going to be essential.
Twenty- and thirtysomethings, you can help yourselves by kicking it up a notch in saving, managing debt and understanding the job market. Our new Globe and Mail podcast, Stress Test, can help (tgam.ca/StressTest). It’s an eight-episode tour of personal finance in crisis conditions for millennials and Gen Z.
Parents of the country, we are very likely to see a replay in the months ahead of the boomerang phenomenon that emerged after the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Young adults who moved out may have to return home or rely on parental financial help.
It took years for the country to absorb the fact that young people were disadvantaged by the economy, not anything to do with their resilience or character. With the pandemic, we should be able to skip that waste-of-time blame game and proceed directly to practical solutions.
It seems obvious at this point that some young adults will need to move home because of the lack of jobs. Where possible, families should make that happen before a twentysomething burns up all his or her savings and starts taking on debt.
As part of its broad support for the economy during the pandemic, the federal government is paying a Canada Emergency Student Benefit of $1,250 per four-week period for May through August. Setting a move-home date no later than Sept. 1 for an unemployed student or recent grad makes sense. Book a truck now and avoid the rush.
A common but not much talked about aspect of parenting in recent years has been supporting adult children by paying costs such as cellphone bills, car insurance and helping with rent. That kind of support will be more necessary than ever as the summer ends.
Some parents themselves are financially fragile right now. It may be cheaper for the family to have a young adult move home than to provide rent subsidies until the job market improves.
One of the best investments a parent can make in helping an unemployed grad is paying down any student debt they incurred. Payments and interest on federal student debt have been suspended until Sept. 30. Also, under rules introduced a few years ago for federal student loans, you don’t have to start repayment until you’re earning at least $25,000 a year.
These measures are helpful, but delaying the repayment of student debt creates the potential for a cascade of negative effects. For example, it takes longer to build up critical mass in an emergency fund if you’ve got student debt payments to make each month. We’ve seen in the pandemic how essential it is to have savings available in case you lose your job or your income is interrupted.
In cities with high rents, it’s hard to find affordable housing if you’re making student debt payments. Building a down payment to buy a house may take longer, and that may cause people to have children later. The later in life you have children, the older you’ll be when your children are fully self-sufficient in a financial sense. Ideally, there’s a golden period when you’re free of a mortgage and child-related costs and thus able to max out your retirement savings.
Helping an adult child with a student loan also helps protect their credit score. Student loans generally appear in an individual’s credit report, which means late or missed payments can drive down a score. It’s not just lenders who use credit score these days. Landlords, employers and insurance companies may also consult them.
The national unemployment rate in May was 13.7 per cent, the overall rate for 20- to 24-year-olds was 29.5 per cent and the rate for 25- to 29-year-olds was 18.4 per cent. The opening up of the economy now under way across the country will put young people back to work, but some will still need a hand.
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