This month’s ONS figures based on Jan-March data showed total unemployment at 2,518,000; up 15,000 on the previous quarter –a rate of 7.8% and up 0.1 percentage points on last quarter. Youth unemployment stood at 958,000 down 17,000 in the quarter. At 20.7%, it was also down 0.1 percentage points.
In themselves though, these figures only provide a partial view of the state of the youth labour market. In accordance with international guidelines, unemployment rates are calculated as the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population (In the case of young people this is made up of those in employment, those who are unemployed, but also students ‘looking for work’).
A more significant indicator is the 1.09 million young people that ONS classified as ‘NEET’ (Not in Education, Employment or Training) 15.1% of all young people and 17.6% of all 18-24 year olds. This was up 21,000 from October to December 2012, though down 101,000 from a year earlier –when there were 50 000 more young people recorded as full-time students.
ONS figures also showed 3.67 million 16 to 24 year olds in employment, down 46,000 from October to December 2012, while there were 27,000 more students. Increasing numbers of young people going into full-time education reduces the size of the economically active population and in statistical terms increases the rate of unemployment. In total there were 2.60 million economically inactive 16 to 24 year olds (73% of whom were in full-time education) up 48,000 from October to December 2012.