Here’s a brutal statistic: One poll found 52 percent of Americans under the age of 45 have either lost their job, been put on leave, or had their hours dramatically cut as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, compared to 26 percent of people over the age of 45.
In other words, millennials are going to bear the brunt of this economic crisis, just as they did in 2008. The Great Recession upended the economy as many millennials were entering the labor force for the first time. The pandemic and the resulting economic shock have hit as many are entering their 30s and could erase any gains they’ve made.
Annie Lowrey, an economics writer at the Atlantic and the author of Give People Money: How A Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World, argued in a recent piece that millennials are essentially “a lost generation,” having entered the labor force during the Great Recession in 2008 and now facing a second “once-in-a-lifetime downturn.”
Millennials, Lowrey argues, have never really had any economic security, and this pandemic all but guarantees “that they will be the first generation in modern American history to end up poorer than their parents.”
I spoke to Lowrey about what makes the plight of millennials “unusually bad,” why this crisis is especially devastating for young workers, and if she thinks millennials have a chance to escape the financial precarity that has defined their lives so far.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
Every generation seems to get screwed economically, at least once or twice. What’s unique about the plight of millennials?
You’re definitely right about that, and I’m not trying to hold a misery Olympics here. I don’t even think millennials are a historically screwed generation compared to all the generations that preceded us going back to time immemorial. But it’s also true that there’s a huge economic body of literature that shows that graduating into a recession, like millennials did in 2008 and 2009, is unusually bad.
Unusually bad in what ways?
The word they use in the economic literature is “hysteresis,” which basically just implies a scarring. So you get these scars in the labor market and it takes a very long time to heal. If you graduate into a recession, for example, it leads to high unemployment and large earnings losses at the time, which you would expect. And then, it leads to lower earnings trajectories for decades and even a lifetime, which is maybe more unexpected. It basically means that you don’t rebound in the way that other people rebound.
So all this means that millennials have not had the same wealth trajectory compared to previous generations. And you can see this when you compare their wealth at the same point in their life cycle with older generations — millennials are just doing worse. And that’s after a decade of economic growth.
I think there’s something really discomforting in that because it means some kind of stratification on the basis of age, but it also means that decades of economic advancement didn’t do anything for a whole generation of people.
How much of this economic precarity for millennials is about bad timing, about the reality of entering the labor force during a massive recession, and how much of it is about the nature of capitalism today and the kind of world it has wrought?
It’s a little of both, right? Some of it is just an accident of timing, but there’s also the reality that millennials were thrown into an economy that was structured to manufacture precarity for them. So obviously a big factor is the Great Recession, which just took money out of their pockets and made it a lot harder for them. The second is the cost of going to college. Millennials have racked up more than a half-trillion dollars of student loan debt. That has had the effect of depressing their take-home pay and it’s made it really hard for them to buy houses, start businesses, start families, have children, and so on.
Millennials have largely been shut out of the housing market, in part because of a massive housing crisis that they didn’t cause, and this happened at a time when the prices were going up. So you had this nice wealth effect that really benefited older generations, especially baby boomers, and millennials instead had to keep on renting. And there’s about an eight percentage point gap between where we would expect the millennials to be and where they are in terms of home ownership, so that’s another big thing.
There are just a hundred threads you could pull on here. The fact that jobs are precarious and a lot of millennials have been stuck in piecemeal or gig work with no real security is obviously a problem. There are significant racial dynamics at work, too. Millennials are a really diverse generation, but white millennials have done a lot better than black millennials in particular.
So millennials were thrown off course by the Great Recession and now we’re facing another cataclysmic economic event with this pandemic. This crisis is hammering every demographic in different ways and at different levels. How will it impact millennials in particular?
It’s a great question, and we just don’t have a lot of great data on what is happening with the economy right now. Our best data tends to be backward-facing, and it’s still not capturing everything that’s going on in the labor market in the economy right now. We’ll have a lot better sense in a couple months.
All that said, the data that do we have from things like polls and credit card processors is terrifying. It shows that millennials are experiencing something somewhat different than older generations. Data for Progress just came out with a report that suggests that more than half of people under the age of 45 have lost their job, been put on leave, or had their hours reduced. And that’s roughly twice the rate of people over the age of 45. And I think that that makes some sense because millennials are disproportionate holders of a lot of the jobs that we know have been wiped out in the most dramatic terms — things like restaurants and bars, health clubs, yoga studios, or retail.
Older generations are likely to see more wealth losses as a result of this because they’re the ones who hold the most wealth. Millennials aren’t really holding a lot of stocks. They don’t own a lot of houses, but boomers do. And so, because of the decline in asset values, those paper losses will be actually relatively restrained for millennials. But that’s not really a good thing. In terms of income losses, I think that this is not going to be good for anybody — and I would really stress that: This is just an awful situation for everyone — but in terms of income losses, at least for right now, it seems like it’s concentrated among young workers.
There’s the debt trap, the home ownership problem, the affordability crisis, the lack of wealth accumulation, an unforgiving labor market — all the things that keep millennials on shaky economic ground. In these sorts of conversations, “neoliberalism” is the default boogeyman, the thing we blame for creating this precarious world we’ve inherited. What’s your origins story here? Who or what do you blame?
I think that there is a lot of blame to go around here, but I would step back and just say that this is the system that we have elected. We choose this system of laws and economic structures. None of this is a given. There’s no “invisible hand” insisting that we have precarity all the time. We choose this. We choose these rates of inequality, this racial wealth gap, we elected it. We choose to not help parents out until their kid is 5 with public education. We could’ve chosen another system, another world, like other countries have.
All of these are solvable problems in terms of policy. In a lot of ways, this isn’t even hard stuff. We’ve just chosen not to do it. Explaining why we’ve done this is just way above my pay grade. I would say that race is a huge part of it. We’ve chosen not to have this system I think in no small part because we’ve elected to make sure that white people have security that black families don’t. And this is the result.
I completely agree, but I just want to be clear right here because I know a lot of people will read this and say, “I didn’t choose this! I don’t want this,” and they’re obviously right. So I think we should be explicit about the “we” in your formulation.
Absolutely. I’d say that these social programs I’m talking about, like universal pre-K for all Americans, are really pretty popular. But I think that we have a system of government that doesn’t reflect that popularity necessarily. So the “we” here is just us as a collective, and particularly the people with their hands on the levers of power.
But you’re obviously right, there have been people pushing back against this for decades. So it’s hard to say who wants this and who doesn’t. I think the key point is that this isn’t merely a market outcome. The world we have has been shaped by policies our government has chosen. That’s so important to remember.
We’re still on the front end of this crisis and no one knows what’s coming, but what’s your best guess of what the economic order will look like on the other side of this pandemic?
That’s the question, right? I wish I knew. I think that economists are currently concerned that we are going to face a terrible snowballing recession that comes from business failures and sickness and loss of insurance on the other side of this. And I just don’t know that we have any idea of how we’re going to rebound from that.
You have optimists who are saying that we could still have a V-shaped recovery because the economy was pretty good going in, and this was like a gargantuan hurricane that came in and will pass over us in time. But I think now there’s a lot more concern that so much economic damage is accumulating that you’re going to end up with a pretty nasty long recession.
One thing we know is that younger workers who were more fragile are already being more hard hit. Older folks will suffer greater wealth losses, but at least they had that wealth cushion. I’m really worried about the children of millennials who are living in these homes that have been shattered by this crisis. I’m concerned about the intergenerational effects of this. How many kids are going to be food insecure? How many kids are going to be out of school for months and months and in really unstable housing and economic situations?
We have this whole generation of workers that have never really had any security to begin with, and now they’re being decimated again. It’s just awful and we still don’t have a real understanding of how bad it will get.
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Enbridge to boost tolls on key pipeline based on 2019 economy – BNNBloomberg.ca
A year ago, the economy looked rosy and crude prices were riding high. Enbridge Inc. now will be getting a bit of a boost from that due to a nearly decade-old contract provision that will increase what the company charges to transport oil on Canada’s largest pipeline network.
The increase comes as the Canadian oil industry has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and pipelines out of Canada are running partly empty after oil sands producers slashed about 25 per cent of output with demand for their product waning.
Enbridge’s Mainline system, which runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Chicago area, ships about 75 per cent of Western Canada’s oil output. The toll on the 2.9 million barrel-a-day system from Alberta to the Chicago area will rise 18 cents a barrel, or 3.9 per cent, starting July 1, Enbridge said. The increase is based on an index of Canada’s economic growth from the prior year, a formula approved by regulators in 2011.
The Canadian economy grew 1.7 per cent last year but has contracted so far this year due to the pandemic. Still, Enbridge says the contract provision has kept prices from rising even higher.
In the past, shippers would have been forced to pay more when oil demand and volumes on the pipeline were lower. The provision “shields shippers from throughput risk which, in current circumstances with decreased oil demand and declining volumes on the Mainline, would have otherwise resulted in a significant toll increase under the previous negotiated settlement,” Jesse Semko, a company spokesman, said in an email.
Enbridge discussed the toll changes with companies that ship on the lines in the middle of May before submitting them to the Canadian Energy Regulator, Semko said.
Lower demand for oil from U.S. refineries has made exporting Canadian crude less economic. The price difference between Canadian heavy oil in Alberta versus the U.S. oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, is about US$4 a barrel, according to NE2 Group pricing.
That’s too narrow a difference to cover the cost of most oil shipments on Enbridge’s pipeline system at current tolls.
Too Many Pipelines
For years, Canadian oil producers struggled with a shortage of export pipelines. Since the coronavirus pandemic and the drastic decline in output, Canada has gone from having too few pipelines to too many. Mainline volumes are expected to be down by 300,000 barrels a day this year, according to Enbridge.
The Mainline includes several pipelines that carry light, medium and heavy oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, where they link to pipelines running into eastern Canada and South to pipelines connected to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Enbridge’s toll increases weren’t matched by other pipeline operators. The Federal government-owned Trans Mountain Pipeline running from Alberta to the Vancouver area cut rates for shipping light crude from Edmonton to Sumas, British Columbia, by 32% on May 1. TC Energy Corp. plans to keep rates to Texas unchanged for uncommitted shipers starting July 1 on its Keystone pipeline after lowering them April 1.
TELUS Health: Accelerating virtual health care innovation to help restart the economy – GlobeNewswire
MONTREAL, June 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — François Gratton, Group President of TELUS and Chair of TELUS Health and TELUS Québec, will address members of the Chamber of Commerce via virtual chat to discuss three current themes: what we’ve learned so far about the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to economic recovery by accelerating health care virtualization, and the role of business in employee safety and wellness.
“Overnight, the COVID-19 crisis triggered major changes in our lives and, in particular, greater awareness of health and wellness in our society. Today more than ever, access to health care is everyone’s business. I firmly believe that we have some fantastic opportunities to take advantage of as we write new pages in our history,” stressed Mr. Gratton.
Virtual health care represents an opportunity for businesses as their employees’ health and safety is more than ever a key concern. It is also an opportunity to reduce absenteeism, stimulate productivity, and increase retention of talents who want the flexibility to balance work and family. Following the introduction of our various health solutions, tens of millions of Canadians now have access to virtual health services.
TELUS Health is one of Canada’s largest providers of healthcare technology services, with a wide array of products and services covering the entire healthcare ecosystem. Restarting the economy also means virtualizing tools for health professionals, from medical consultations to home follow-up. This allows them to see patients safely while respecting social distancing.
“Today, all employers are being called upon, through the decisions they make about the benefits they offer employees, to consider the offering of virtual care solutions such as those provided by TELUS Health’s Akira and Babylon applications, connecting Canadians and their families to health professionals over their phones, and giving them the opportunity to get an opinion anytime, anywhere,” added Mr. Gratton.
Over the last 10 years, TELUS has invested over $3 billion in transforming Canada’s health care sector. As soon as the COVID-19 started, TELUS Health has made a clear commitment: to do everything we can to facilitate access to health care, and to help protect and support organizations in the pursuit of their activities.
Over 3,000 members of the TELUS Health team, based primarily here in Montreal, are working to develop virtual solutions to streamline access to health care for all citizens. Moreover, TELUS will make major investments of more than $850 million in the Greater Montreal area over the next four years to speed up the rollout of our leading-edge solutions.
TELUS investments will prioritize the following:
- Network robustness, speed and reliability as the virtualization of activities at our companies, hospitals and clinics accelerates exponentially Ongoing development of our virtual solutions
- Sustaining our community efforts, as shown by the partnership with the CHUM Foundation to expand Montreal’s screening capacity and the emergency fund our TELUS Community Board has set up to meet the essential needs of a dozen charitable organizations such as the Fondation du CHU Ste-Justine, Tel-Jeunes and La tablée des chefs
- TELUS has committed $150 million to support Canadians through the COVID-19 crisis.
To stay informed of the measures being taken by TELUS during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit telus.com/covid19.
This news release contains statements that are forward-looking, including regarding the anticipated amount of our investments and our investment priorities. By their nature, forward-looking statements require TELUS to make assumptions and predictions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties. There is significant risk that the forward-looking statements will not prove to be accurate. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as a number of factors could cause actual expenditures to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this release. Accordingly, the statements in this news release are subject to the disclaimer and qualified by the assumptions, qualifications and risk factors referred to in our 2019 annual management’s discussion and analysis and our Q1 2020 management’s discussion and analysis, and in other TELUS public disclosure documents and filings with securities commissions in Canada (on SEDAR at sedar.com) and in the United States (on the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval System, administered by the US Securities and Exchange Commission at sec.gov). The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our expectations at the date of this news release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as required by law, TELUS disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements.
TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a dynamic, world-leading communications and information technology company with $14.8 billion in annual revenue and 15.3 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video and security. We leverage our global-leading technology to enable remarkable human outcomes. Our long-standing commitment to putting customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. TELUS Health is Canada’s largest health care IT provider, and TELUS International delivers the most innovative business process solutions to some of the world’s most established brands.
Driven by our passionate social purpose to connect all Canadians for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired our team members and retirees to contribute more than $700 million and 1.3 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world.
For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com, follow us on Twitter (@TELUSNews) and Instagram (@Darren_Entwistle).
For media inquiries, please contact:
TELUS Public Relations
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