Why are young people leaving the labour market?

This insight discusses why young people may not be entering the workforce after leaving education. Economic inactivity, the proportion of people who are neither working nor looking for work, has risen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This trend is evident among young people, with an increase in those who are leaving education and not entering the labour market. This Insight discusses the rise in economic inactivity among young people, and the reasons behind this.

  • The rise in inactivity among young people – according to the ONS statistics between November 2022 and January 2023, 2.61 million young people (aged 16-24) were economically inactive.
  • More young people are entering education – a sharp increase in the number of young people leaving the labour market to start or re-enter education since the start of the pandemic.
  • NEET figures – have increased as individuals have left education but not entered work.
  • Young People are leaving the labour market for health reasons – the largest increase in economic inactivity is due to long-term sickness.
  • Economic inactivity is increasing among young men – main reason for young men aged 18-24 leaving the labour market is ill health, particularly poor mental health.
  • Economic inactivity is decreasing among young women – two main factors behind the decrease; young women are becoming less likely to have children and the young women who do have children are more likely to be in employment.

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