The real ‘lost generation’?

Martin Allen

Labour market statistics, published by the Office for National Statistics, for January  to March 2010, continue to highlight the plight of young people and confirm many of the arguments in our book  Lost Generation? The latest figure show  unemployment levels, as measured by the Labour Force Survey method  rising again – sounding alarm bells to those who have argued that the economic recovery is well under way.  They also add weight to concerns in the media about a ‘jobless recovery’.

If total unemployment is now at  2.51  million, at 8%, the highest figure since 1994, unemployment amongst 16-24 year olds is up to 929 000 a rise of 9000  on the previous quarter. The statistics also show 17.9% of 18-24 year olds classified as ‘economically active’ are unable to find a job  a total of  734 000 – over 25% have been out of work for a year. For 16-17 year olds trying to enter the labour market, unemployment is more than 1 in 3.

In Lost Generation? We noted  that an immediate consequence of the recession was an increase in the number of people becoming ‘students’. ONS confirm this. Of the 8.1 million ‘economically inactive’ 2.3  million fit this category –a quarterly increase of 43000.  The number of NEETs in the 16-24 age group is now estimated at 1.05 million, but of the 4.3 million not in full-time education, just over 2.85 million (66.6%) are recorded as being ‘employed’ and 664 000 (19%)  ‘unemployed’  leaving a further 767 000 ‘economically inactive’.  Constituting over 10% of the cohort, a large number of these may be ‘nominal’ students enrolled on part-time courses. Avoiding the NEET label  these are a real ‘lost generation’

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