The unemployed, the economically inactive and the NEETs

Figures released today by the ONS show youth unemployment (16-24-year olds) down to 12.2%, still nearly three times the rate for the population generally, but close to the 2001 low of 11.6%. (Youth joblessness reached 22.5% in 2011.)

But in many respects, these figures are of limited use. For example, over a third of those recorded as unemployed are full-time students looking for part-time work  – the 3.8 million 16-24-year olds in the labour market also include 860 000 full-time students doing part-time work.

Figures for youth unemployment should not be confused with the number of NEETs (Those not in  education, employment  or training) however.  According to figures published towards the end of 2017, 790 000 16-24-year olds were recorded as being NEET, 11.1% of the entire age group. 

Yet only 38% of NEETs were unemployed, the remainder being ‘economically inactive’ meaning they were not looking or available for work. (About a third of female NEETs were recorded as having domestic/care responsibilities preventing them looking for work, but the number of men in this category was practically non-existent.)

If totals for the unemployed and economically inactive are combined however, then almost 1 in 4 of those not in full-time education would fall into this category. A more accurate assessment of youth joblessness.



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