Briefing paper

Jobless and distressed: the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on young Australians

COVID-19 Youth unemployment Unemployment Australia Victoria

Besides being the most likely demographic to contract the disease, young Australians are also most to suffer COVID-related employment disruptions.

For more than six months, COVID-19 has been disrupting the lives, communities and businesses of millions of Australians. It is becoming clear that people of all ages have been affected by this crisis, although some age groups appear to be affected more than others. This paper highlights the experiences of young Australian adults (aged 18-24), showing that people in this age group have been particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Compared to the general population, young Australian adults stand out in several respects. They are the most likely demographic to contract the virus, with the incidence of COVID-19 infections being twice the population average (Department of Health, 2020). They also tend to work casual jobs in industries that have been extensively disrupted by COVID-19, leaving them exposed to the risks of job loss and reduced working hours.

Finally, many young Australians live alone, which can increase stress caused by social isolation during quarantining and worsen their mental health.

The following analysis combines six months of data from the Taking the Pulse of the Nation survey, and the most recent wave of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to document the effects of COVID-19 on young Australian adults, focusing on their employment and mental health. The analysis contrasts the pandemic experiences of younger and older Australians, showing sizable differences across age groups. Special attention is paid to the outcomes of young Victorians during the second wave of COVID-19, and to the differences between young men and women.

Publication Details
Research Insights No.26/20