Youth unemployment rises as overall rate falls

The number of young people out of work has risen despite the overall unemployment rate remaining the same in the last quarter, government figures have revealed.

The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds went up 15,000 between April and July, from 958,000 to 973,000.

However, the figure is considerably down on the same period last year, when youth unemployment hit more than 1.1 million.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Youth unemployment is down 38,000 since last year, and the youth claimant count has now fallen for fourteen consecutive months, but we are not complacent, and are committed to giving young people the best possible chances for gaining the most up to date skills to participate in the modern economy.”

He pointed to the traineeship scheme, which will be funded from this month, saying it would “give young people a clear pathway into apprenticeships and other employment”.

He added: “We are boosting apprenticeships to provide businesses with the skills they need to compete.”

The increase in out of work 16 to 24-year-olds put the unemployment rate for the age group at 21.4 per cent, up 0.7 percentage points from January to March 2013.

According to international guidelines, unemployment rates are calculated as the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population — people who are employed plus those who are not.

Increasing numbers of young people going into full-time education reduces the size of the economically active population and therefore increases the unemployment rate.

From April to July this year, there were 3.58 million 16 to 24-year-olds in employment, down 92,000 from January to March 2013.

There were 2.67 million economically inactive 16 to 24-year-olds, up 63,000 from January to March, but 74 per cent of these were in full-time education.

Spencer Thompson, economic analyst at think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said the performance of young people in the labour market was an “area of particular concern”.

“The danger is that when the economy really starts to get moving again, the young will miss out,” he said.

“This will have profound economic and social costs in the future.”

He added: “Getting the youth labour market working again is going to require a concerted effort from policymakers.”

He repeated calls made by the IPPR for the government to implement a jobs guarantee for young people which, he said, would “provide much needed work experience and employability skills to the growing ranks of unemployed youth”.