Gen-Z Faces Financial Challenges, Stress, Anxiety And An Uncertain Future

Gen-Z feels substantial anxiety and stress about jobs, long-term financial stability, and major life steps, such as buying a home and starting a family. The current economy and job market are primary sources of uncertainty for this generation, according to EY’s 2023 Gen-Z Segmentation Study.

Seeing the wave of massive layoffs in late 2022 through the first half of 2023 has created feelings of distrust toward employers and job insecurity. Consequently, the EY data revealed that Gen-Z’s anxiety levels are at an all-time high.

The study captured insights from more than 1,500 participants across the United States born between roughly 1997 and 2007—aged 16 to 26 years old—to track Gen-Z’s personal and professional interests and their outlook on mental health, trust, technology, career and lifestyle ambitions.

Marcie Merriman, EY Americas cultural insights and customer strategy leader, said about the survey, “Right now, Gen-Z is particularly important as the newest generation of consumers, employees and citizens that will dramatically impact businesses today and into the future.” Merriman added that EY’s research found that mental health is an ongoing challenge for this cohort.

They will ultimately comprise a large component of the workforce. Elder Zoomers will soon age out of their parent’s health plans and need to assume the high costs of insurance—not to mention the additional expenses of renting an apartment, paying back tuition loans and life’s necessities.

Key Findings

According to the report, over 50% of Gen-Zers said they are “extremely worried about not having enough money.” In light of the economic turmoil, fears of a recession, the ascension of artificial intelligence and corporate downsizings, making a living is a top priority for these young adults.

This group is also stressed about making poor financial decisions with their hard-earned money. Many people got burned chasing meme stocks, SPACs, NFTs and cryptocurrencies during the big bubble pandemic overexuberance. Nearly 70% of the respondents self-reported that their financial situation was not looking good.

Gen-Zers are juggling several gigs and jobs. Around 65% worked part-time or full-time jobs last year, while 56% earned money from freelance or “side hustle” work. Thirty-nine percent of Gen-Z earned money working both a job and a side hustle.

Anxiety Around Communication

After a few years of working remotely, companies are pushing people to return to the office. There is a discomfort segueing from being stuck at home during the pandemic and needing to navigate corporate etiquette.

According to Tara Salinas, a professor of business ethics at the University of San Diego, Gen-Z’s native digital skills may have come at the cost of in-person communication and interpersonal relationships. “Gen-Z are digital natives and they’ve always communicated online, so their interpersonal skills—or soft skills—have suffered,” said Salinas.

Data from a 2023 report by Miro on asynchronous work reveals that many Gen-Z workers find it challenging to communicate effectively in the workplace. They have difficulty asking for help and struggle to navigate collaborative processes with their colleagues.

In A Separate McKinsey Study

A study by McKinsey last year found that Gen-Z faces an unprecedented behavioral health crisis. Zoomers in America reported the least positive outlook and the highest level of mental illness of any generation.

This cohort is going through what looks like a decline in economic opportunities. Saving for retirement seems out of reach and will become even harder. Almost 60% of Gen-Zers say their basic needs are not being met.

They’re plagued with concerns about finding stable, well-paying jobs. Without a secure position comes uncertainty and discomfort. Understandably, there’s a lament that they won’t be able to have the American dream of buying a home, starting a family and doing better than their parents. This cohort is also anxious over the anchor of student debt, high inflation causing the prices of nearly everything to rise and the difficulty of earning enough money to save for the future.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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