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453,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in September-November 2021, a decrease of 45,000 from the previous quarter and a decrease of 137,000 from the year before. By historical standards, unemployment levels for young people remain low.

For context, it is worth noting that the total population aged 16-24 has been declining in recent years; in the year to September-November 2021, it decreased by 38,000.

The number of young people in employment increased by 65,000 from the previous quarter and increased by 135,000 from the previous year to 3.65 million.

The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) fell by 18,000 from the previous quarter and fell by 36,000 from the previous year to 2.72 million.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 11.1% in September-November 2021. This is down from 12.2% in the previous quarter and down from 14.4% a year before.

The inactivity rate for young people is 39.7%, down from 39.9% in the previous quarter. 77% 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 a large rise in the number of economic inactive young people. This was followed by a smaller rise in unemployment.

Unemployment levels are now below pre-pandemic levels, but the number of young people in employment remains below and the number who are economically inactive remains above those levels.

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

  • The number of young people in employment has fallen by 141,000, a 4% fall. The fall for men has been larger, with employment levels falling by 5% for men and by 3% for women.
  • The number of unemployed young people was below pre-pandemic levels by 79,000, a 15% fall. 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 was 11.1% compared to a pre-pandemic rate of 12.3%. This increased to 14.8% in July-September 2020.
  • 134,000 more young people have become economically inactive, an increase of 5%.

At the end of the furlough scheme (30 September 2021) 98,900 jobs held by those aged 24 or under were on furlough, which was 3% of eligible jobs. 

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 November 2021 was still 76,300 higher than in March 2020, an increase of 32%. Some of the initial increase will be due to employed people who became eligible for Universal Credit as part of the government response.

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

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