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Effects of Unemployment

Blogger: Jaime Morrison

In a recent Toronto Star article Alyshah Hasham began to articulate the fears of some Canadian Millennials in the face of our current economic climate. The article discusses the difficult choice we have to make when we think about  “buying a home and starting a family” and “saving for retirement,” in this climate of unemployment with a jobless rate of 14.5%

We will gradually be exposed to the effect that long-term unemployment will have on my generation. But for now we should consider this generation’s current priorities; do we want a house or family?

Our most recent study of Millennial adults (18 – 30) has found that for most Millennials, a successful marriage or relationship and having a successful career are high on their priority list (78% of Millennials rank having a successful marriage among their top three priorities, and 59% rank having a successful career among their top three.) Around four in ten Millennials (39%) rank owning a home near the top of their priorities list. Comparatively, 37% ranked “having free time to relax” as a top priority.

It is possible that we have shifted our expectations based on the economic climate and realigned them to place more emphasis on personal and professional goals. Either way, for now, Millennials are about as interested in buying a home as they are in having enough time to sit back and catch the game on Saturday night.

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of the Millennials we surveyed currently own their own home or condo, compared to three-quarters (75%) of Non-Millennials who currently own a home. While sixty-five percent of Millennials would ultimately like to live outside of the city some day, but for now, many of us (45%) prioritize living within walking distance to services.

As far as we can tell, saving up for a house, starting a family, or for that matter saving for retirement are not really on the radar at all for most Millennials. Of course the same life cycle effects that will influence the behaviour of all generations will still come in to play for the Millennials, and we can already see this happening, as almost a quarter of Millennial adults already owns a home. However, as we enter the workforce during an economic downturn, Millennials should expect a delay before getting the jobs they desire and our research shows that Millennials may be even further delayed before making these choices.

Millennials prioritize their current lifestyle rather than considering what is on the horizon. It seems that planning for retirement probably won’t be top of mind for a while. Right now Millennials want to get a job so that they can move out of their parent’s house or buy a new phone.