Published youth unemployment figures are often misleading because they usually include full-time students who are seeking or are in-between temporary jobs and also because now, many young workers in sectors shut down by Covid 9, may be furloughed in ‘zombie jobs’, unlikely to exist when the job protection measures end. But latest statistics for NEETs, (those ‘not in education, employment or training’) provide a clearer picture of the difficulties facing younger people towards the lower end of the labour market.
In October to December 2020, an estimated 11.6% (797,000) of young people aged 16 to 24 years were NEET. This represented a 0.6 percentage rise the previous three months, when lockdown measures were reimposed. The percentage of those aged 18 to 24 years who were NEET was 13.8% (744,000) – in otherwords around 1 in 7 (!) These increases are in spite of the fact that the government’s ‘Kickstart’ initiative had supposedly created 120 000 placements by November and removed these young people from the Jobless and NEET totals.
NEET totals include those recorded as ‘economically inactive’, not in education or training but NOT looking for work. While this will include those who are sick or have caring responsibilities who therefore cannot work, the large number of young males in this category (an estimated 230,000) men between 16 to 24 years were economically inactive (compared with 213 000 women) –up by 38,000 on the previous quarter, the highest since October to December 2013 — suggests that many have officially withdrawn from the labour market, though this is not to say they’d turn down work if it was offered.