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438,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in January-March 2022, down 28,000 from the previous quarter and down 105,000 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 January-March 2022, it decreased by 13,000.

The number of young people in employment increased by 18,000 from the previous quarter and increased by 277,000 from the previous year to 3.70 million.

The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) rose by 19,000 from the previous quarter and fell by 186,000 from the previous year to 2.66 million.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16-24 year olds was 10.6% in January-March 2022. This is down from 11.2% in the previous quarter and down from 13.7% a year before.

The inactivity rate for young people is 39.1%, down from 38.9% 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, January-March 2022, with the pre-pandemic quarter of January-March 2020:

  • The number of young people in employment has fallen by 85,000, a 2.24% fall. The fall for men has been larger, with employment levels falling by 77,000 for men and only slightly for women.
  • The number of unemployed young people was below pre-pandemic levels by 95,000, an 18% 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 10.6% compared to a pre-pandemic rate of 12.3%. This increased to 14.8% in July-September 2020.
  • 100,000 more young people have become economically inactive, an increase of 4%.

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 March 2022 was still 36,700 higher than in March 2020, an increase of 16%. 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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