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The health effects of Covid-19 are disproportionately harming the elderly, but it’s millennials who are most at risk from the economic effects of the pandemic, new research from Statistics Canada suggests.

In a paper, the national statistical agency examines the likely impact of the pandemic on the economic wellbeing of several major cohorts — millennials (those born after 1980), Gen X (born 1965 to 1980) and baby boomers (1946 to 1964).

Among other things, StatsCan concluded that millennial households are at “greater risk” for several reasons, including their greater reliance on wages, rising debt-to-income ratios and lower household equity, among other factors.

“The larger reliance on wages and salaries puts millennial households at greater economic risk, since recent assessments of the Canadian economy have noted that, while financial markets and real estate values have remained relatively stable since the beginning of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a more noticeable impact on employment,” the paper said.

At the same time, millennial households don’t have the financial assets or real estate equity to draw on to help make up for lost income.

Moreover, millennials are more likely to work in industries that are being hit hard by the pandemic, the paper said.

When it comes to spending, millennial households may not have as much flexibility, as they face relatively high fixed costs for housing and utilities, and their debt-to-income ratio has risen from 178% in 2010 to 199% in 2019.

“Along with rising debt-to-income ratios, it may become increasingly difficult for millennials to cover their debt obligations if they lose their jobs or have to reduce their work hours as a result of the pandemic,” the paper said.

“As the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to work their way through the economy, the well-being of millennial households may be more at risk relative to older generations, despite the introduction of unprecedented income support programs.”

As a result, StatsCan suggested that millennials may well “postpone major life events such as buying a house, starting a family and investing in their children’s education.”