This paper presents the latest statistics on youth unemployment in the UK as well as comparisons with other EU countries.

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Impact of coronavirus (Covid-19)

The June Labour Force Survey, used by the ONS in its monthly labour market bulletin, will now start to reflect some of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. This paper contains unemployment information for the period between February and April 2020.

On 16 June, the ONS published May 2020 figures for the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits (the unadjusted claimant count). As these figures are for May 2020, they give us a measure of how the number of claimants has changed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Note that while some of the increase in the Claimant Count will be due to people who have become unemployed, some increase will also be due to employed people who have become eligible for Universal Credit as part of the government response.

According to the IFS, employees aged under 25 were about two and a half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down as other employees.

According to the Resolution Foundation, one-third of 18-24-year-old employees (excluding students) have lost jobs or been furloughed, compared to one-in-six prime-age adults 35% of non-full-time student 18-24-year-old employees are earning less than they did prior to the outbreak, compared to 23% of 25-49-year-olds.

The IFS finds that those under 25 are more exposed to jobs that cannot be worked from home, these difference across age groups are larger for those with GCSE qualifications or less.

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

528,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in February-April 2020, an increase of 21,000 from the previous quarter and an increase of 48,000 from the year before. By historical standards, unemployment levels for young people are very low

For context, it is worth noting that the total population aged 16-24 has been declining in recent years; in the year to April 2020, it decreased by 54,000. The number of young people in employment also decreased by 25,000 over the same period, while the number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) decreased by 76,000.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 12.2% in February-April 2020. This is up from 11.7% in the previous quarter and from 11.2% a year before

The inactivity rate for young people is 37.3%. Three quarters of young people who are economically inactive are in full-time education.

Youth claimant count

In May 2020, 506,305 people aged 16-24 claimed unemployment related benefits. This was an increase of 264,545 claimants from March 2020, when the UK lockdown began.

This represents an increase of 109% between March and May 2020. Females aged 16-24 years had a 107% increase in claims, whereas males aged 16-24 years had a 111% increase in claims over the same period.

Youth Unemployment across Europe

The UK youth unemployment rate was 10.9%, compared to 14.0% for the European Union as a whole.

  • Commons Research Briefing SN05871
  • Authors: Andy Powell, Brigid Francis-Devine, Niamh Foley
  • Topics: Work & Incomes

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