Young Americans continue to be crushed in the pandemic recession

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
August 14, 2020, 7:07 PM UTC

The percentage of young Americans who are bearing the brunt of the financial crisis continues to climb. 

More than a third (37%) of Americans aged 18-29 say they are worse off financially than they were a year ago, according to new data from the Economist/YouGov Poll, which is the highest that weekly figure has risen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Young Americans are much more likely than those in other age demographics to report worsening financial situations: 23 percent among 20-to 44-year-olds, 28 percent among 45-to 64 year-olds and 27 percent among those over 65. 

The deteriorating financial situation for young people has resulted in serious hardships: They are more likely to be having difficulty paying for housing (34% vs. 24% of the general population) and struggling to buy enough food (31% vs. 23%). 

As it always does, the economy will play a major role in the election. However, protecting Americans from the health effects, rather than the economic effects, of COVID-19 remains the priority among most Americans. Even those 18-to 29-year-olds who have seen their finances deteriorate in the last year say health is a priority over the economy (72% compared to 63% of the general population). 

As presidential candidates enter campaign season in earnest, some notable trends regarding financial wellbeing appear along party lines. The rate of Democrats who say they’re worse off financially has fluctuated but only increased by four points (30% to 34%) between the beginning of February and this week. The rate among Republicans is trending upwards, from nine percent in February to 19 percent this week. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week's Economist/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: The latest Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US registered voters interviewed online between August 9 – 11, 2020. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.5% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty