With the monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that unemployment for the three month period August to November had reached 2.5 million, it has been the increase in youth unemployment – a total of 951.000 (20.5% of 16-24 year olds) are now out of work –that has received particular attention. Youth unemployment has remained well above 900 000 for months; but these figures represent the highest since comparable records began in 1992 and show 1 in 5 are out of work. More specifically, ONS figures show 44.3% of 16-17 year olds and 27.0% of 18-20 year olds who were out of school, unable to find a job – but also 1 in 5 of new graduates.
These totals however, do not include those who are classified as ‘economically inactive’. The ONS data shows that of those 16-24 year olds ‘not in full-time education’ 18.3 % (794 000) are in this category compared with 15.7% (681 000) who are ‘unemployed.’ Of course, ‘economically inactive’ includes those not able to work – mothers with children, people caring for older relatives and those who are sick, but it also includes those ‘discouraged’ from looking for work – they have simply given up.