Young people’s unemployment already disproportionately affected by lockdown

Young people’s unemployment already disproportionately affected by lockdown

It’s even more important that bodies like Movement to Work and its employer members work now to address the long-term effects on youth unemployment of the Coronavirus 

Two reports have now been issued outlining the impact of the Coronavirus on employment, showing that younger people are being affected disproportionately during the lockdown. Movement to Work (MtW) exists as a collaboration of employers dedicated to ensuring that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind, and to encourage all employers to look deeper into the labour market to find tomorrow’s workplace stars. MtW was founded as a direct result of the 2008 financial crisis and the later civil unrest in 2011 as many young people were left with no hope of meaningful careers.

Younger people have been disproportionately affected by unemployment for many years. According to UK Government figures, in the quarter November 2019 to March 2020 the general unemployment rate was 3.9%; for 16-24-year olds it was 11.7%. It came as no surprise that survey statistics in reports from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Zurich, Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) report both show that younger people have been amongst the first to lose their jobs through the lockdown.

The IFS report said that the lockdown has hit young workers the hardest; on the eve of the crisis sectors that shut down as a result of social distancing measures employed nearly a third (30%) of all employees under the age of 25 (25% of young men and 36% of young women). This compares to just one in eight (13%) of workers aged 25 and over. Employees aged under 25 were about two and a half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down as other employees.

The Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock report said:

  • 69% of workers aged under 30 report working fewer hours in the first week of lockdown compared to usual and 58% report earning less, compared to 49% and 36% of workers aged 40-55 respectively
  • of those in work last month, 10% under 30 are now unemployed “definitely” or “probably” because of COVID-19, compared to 6% of workers aged 40-55
  • currently employed workers aged under 30 believe they have a 39% chance of losing their job by August, compared to 27% for those aged 40-55.

Movement to Work is already collating and issuing information to youth-outreach organisations on online employability training, in the absence of workplace experience. It is also working on its strategy to address this issue with more ambition than ever before to ensure that young people are not disproportionately affected in the longer term, while the rest of the economy recovers. The results of these reports make that an imperative.