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539,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in March-May 2021, a decrease of 41,000 from the previous quarter and a decrease of 24,000 from the year before. By historical standards, unemployment levels for young people remain low.0F0F0F

For context, it is worth noting that the total population aged 16-24 has been declining in recent years; in the year to March-May 2021, it decreased by 71,000.

The number of young people in employment increased by 57,000 from the previous quarter but fell by 286,000 from the previous year to 3.46 million.

The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) fell by 30,000 from the previous quarter but increased by 239,000 from the previous year to 2.81 million.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 13.5% in March-May 2021. This is down from 14.6% in the previous quarter but up from 13.1% a year before.

The inactivity rate for young people is 41.2%, which is close to the highest rate since comparable records began in 1992. 81% of the young people who are economically inactive are in full-time education.

Impact of coronavirus (Covid-19)

In the months following the start of the pandemic there was a large fall in employment levels for young people aged 16-24, and this was followed by a rise in unemployment. Although unemployment levels have since returned to pre-pandemic levels, the number of young people in employment remains below.

Comparing the latest quarter, March-May 2021, with the pre-pandemic quarter of January-March 2020:

·          The number of young people in employment has fallen by 329,000, a 9% fall. The fall for men has been larger, with employment levels falling by 10% for men and by 7% for women.

·          There has been a slight increase in unemployment for young people. In July-September 2020 it had increased by 14% from pre-pandemic levels, but since then levels of unemployment for young people have gradually been falling.

·          The unemployment rate has increased to 13.5% from 12.3%. This increased to 14.8% in July-September 2020.

·          245,000 more young people have become economically inactive, an increase of 10%.

As at 31 May 2021, 322,400 jobs held by those aged 24 or under were on furlough, which was 10% of eligible jobs. There was a large fall in the number of furloughed jobs held by young people between April and May 2021.

The number of people aged 18-24 claiming unemployment related benefits more than doubled from March to May 2020, at the start of the pandemic. Since then, the youth claimant count has fallen, but the number of claimants in June 2021 was still 206,000 higher than in March 2020, an increase of 88%. Some of the initial increase will be due to employed people who became eligible for Universal Credit as part of the government response.


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