The monthly ONS statistics on the labour market show that unemployment as a whole continues to fall –now down to 1.9 million (5.8% of the ‘economically active population’). Data for the youth labour market points the other way however. The December figures indicated that the fall in youth unemployment during recent months, is now bottoming out, but January figures published this week show that youth joblessness is starting to increase once again.
For 16-24 year olds, unemployment has risen by 30 000, from a smaller cohort –in percentage terms it’s up to 16.8% compared with 16% in the last quarter. Even if full-time students looking for work are excluded, for 18-24 year olds, unemployment now stands at 16.9%. There’s also been a 50 000 rise in those classified as ‘economically inactive’. Though not all of these would be available to work.
The contrasting fortunes of young people continues to illustrate the difficulties they have in entering the labour market –youth unemployment is three times the full adult rate –yet with young workers invariably the last to get jobs and the first to lose them, does it also point to a possible reversal of the recent trend of falling unemployment in the near future?