One in twenty young people are currently unemployed, the highest level in four years, latest estimates reveal
Some 350,000 people aged 16-24 were classified as unemployed between July and September this year, according to the Office for National Statistics. Youth unemployment, which has been falling over the past decade, is now at its highest level since 2016.
Overall, however, the number of young people not in employment, education, or training, has fallen. This is “partially because there has been a large increase in the proportion of young people in full-time education,” according to the ONS.
The figures were slightly worse for young men, seven per cent of whom were unemployed. Only three per cent of young women were unemployed.
The economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has hit young workers harder than older workers. In the first wave, one third of 18-24 year olds were unemployed or furloughed, double the national average, according to the Resolution Foundation.
Any rise in unemployment amongst young people is particularly concerning, as unemployment early on can permanently stunt career prospects. Research on German workers suggests that the effects of early-career unemployment on income can last well over a decade, with those who suffer from repeated spells of unemployment most at risk.
Even highly educated young people are struggling to find work. Chloe, aged 22, was unemployed for four months after finishing university.
“I worked really hard all through my education to get into a top university,” she said. “I thought a degree would secure my future. Then the pandemic happened.”
Despite graduating with a first-class degree, Chloe was rejected from 30 jobs. “Suddenly, every job seemed to have triple the number of applications. It seemed like more people with masters’ degrees and experience were applying for the jobs I wanted,” she said.
“Ultimately, this might also be impacting the quality of jobs out there,” said Chloe, who now works in FinTech. “You think ‘If I get a job, everything must then be fine’, but you won’t know until you start what it will actually be like. Some employers seem to be taking advantage of the fact you’ve got fewer other options.”