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Impact of coronavirus (Covid-19)

Since the start of the pandemic there has been a large increase in unemployment and a large fall in employment for young people aged 16-24.

Comparing the latest quarter, October-December, with the pre-pandemic quarter of January-March 2020:

  • Unemployment for young people has increased by 66,000, a 13% increase. The increase for men was 45,000, a 15% increase, while the increase for women was 12,000, an 10% increase.
  • The unemployment rate has increased to 14.2% from 12.1%.
  • The number of young people in employment has fallen by 284,000, a 7.5% fall. The fall for men has been larger, with employment levels falling by 9% for men and by 6% for women.
  • 189,000 more young people have become economically inactive.

The number of people aged 16-64 claiming unemployment related benefits has increased by 271,000 from January 2020 to January 2021, an increase of 120%. This was driven by increases from March to May when the number of claimants more than doubled. Since May the youth claimant count has fallen slightly. Some of the increase since March will be due to employed people who have become eligible for Universal Credit as part of the government response.

As at 31 December, 785,000 jobs held by those aged 24 or under were on furlough, which was 19% of eligible jobs. Almost two million jobs held by young people, and almost half of eligible jobs, were furloughed at some point between March and the end of July.

More information can be found in the Library briefing Coronavirus: Impact on the labour market.

589,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in October-December 2020, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous quarter and an increase of 109,000 from the year before. Recent levels of youth unemployment are at their highest since 2016, although by historical standards, unemployment levels for young people remain low.

The number of young people in employment fell slightly since the previous quarter and fell by 282,000 from the previous year to 3.51 million.

The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) increased by 13,000 from the previous quarter and increased by 133,000 from the previous year to 2.75 million.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 14.4% in October-December 2020. This is down from 14.6% in the previous quarter and from 11.3% a year before.


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