Youth unemployment is at its highest since 1986/87 with the number of 16-24 year olds out of work standing at 1.04 million at the end of 2011 says the Office for National Statistics.
Of the 1.04 million young unemployed people a third (307,000) were full-time students looking for work to go alongside their studies. The increased number of students over the years, says the ONS, explains why the number of unemployed full time students has increased and why the level of youth unemployment excluding students is higher than 1994 but lower than after the 1980s and 1990s recessions.
The ONS says that for every five young people either in work or seeking work, one of them (actually 22.2%) is looking for work.
When you take into account those not active in the employment market, that is just enlarge the pool and look at all young people and how many are unemployed it turns out that one in seven (14.2%) are without work, the highest since 1984/85.
Comparing youth unemployment with previous recessions, after 1984 there were 1.2 million young unemployed compared to 924,000 after 1993 and now 1.04 million.
And, although when excluding students today’s total of 731, 000 (10%) youth unemployed compares favourably with 832,000 (12%) in 1993 and 1.1 million(14%) in 1984, when “…..just looking at young people not in fulltime education, the unemployment proportion was 17.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2011, the highest since records began.” Says the ONS.
The report also says that the better qualified youth and ‘older young’ people have lower levels of unemployment. For example the percentage of unemployed 24 year olds with a degree was just 4.9% compared to those with GCSEs with a 12.8% unemployment rate. But 16 year olds with GCSEs only have a 25.9% unemployment rate.
Because London has such a high proportion of students it has the highest youth unemployment rate of 23.7% but the North East has the highest proportion unemployed at 14.6%.
But these pale into relative insignificance when comparing the plight of our youth with that of Spain. There the youth unemployment rate stands at 47.1% of 15 to 24 year olds.
Compared to the UK as a whole the UK’s rate of 21.8% compares with the EU average of 21.5%. Here remember that for EU comparisons the pool is all those aged 15-24, whereas it is 16-24 for the UK.
Of the approximately 484,000 18-24 year olds on JSA, about 60% were looking for work in sales or ‘elementary’ occupations (lowest skilled jobs). The main sales jobs sought were sales assistant or retail cashier, whilst the main elementary jobs looked for were in goods storage and personal services (such as hairdressing).