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In February 2024, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reintroduced Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, which also includes a population reweighting. This is after only some experimental headline data was published between October 2023 and January 2024 due to falling response rates.

The ONS have said that the reintroduced LFS estimates should be treated with additional caution, and that the quarterly change estimates are particularly volatile. 

There were 540,000 young people aged 16 to 24 who were unemployed in January to March 2024, an increase of 33,000 from the previous year.

Youth unemployment is currently at a historically low level. Youth unemployment fell to 406,000 in May to July 2022 which was the lowest recorded level since records began in 1992. However, since then it has been gradually increasing.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of the economically active population who are unemployed) for 16 to 24 year olds was 13.0%. This is up from 11.6% from the year before.

The number of young people in employment in January to March 2024 was 248,000 lower than the previous year, to 3.60 million.

The number who are economically inactive (not in or looking for work) increased by 297,000 compared to the previous year, to 3.00 million. This is close to the highest recorded level since records began in 1992.

The inactivity rate for young people was 42.0%, up from 38.3% in the previous year.

The employment rate for young people was 50.4%, meaning that a similar number of young people were out of work as there were in work.

Trends in youth unemployment

After reaching a peak of 22.5% in 2011 following the 2008 financial crisis, youth unemployment rates fell until the end of 2019. The youth unemployment rate was 12.6% in January to March 2020, just before the pandemic. Youth unemployment did initially rise after the outbreak of the pandemic, with the youth unemployment rate reaching a high of 15.3% in August to October 2020. Levels of youth unemployment were 14% higher in that quarter than they were pre-pandemic.

Youth unemployment then fell steadily until June to August 2022, when it began to rise again. In January to March 2024, it was 13,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

The youth unemployment rate was 13.0% in January to March 2024, compared to 12.6% January to March 2020.

Following the start of the pandemic there was a fall in youth employment levels and a rise in inactivity levels. The number of young people in employment in January to March 2024, was 221,000 less than pre-pandemic levels, while the number of inactive young people was 414,000 above pre-pandemic levels.


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