Rate for Youth Unemployment- 16-24- now 20% and three times the rate for older workers


The ‘unemployment rate’ is the proportion of the ‘economically active’ population who are not working (i.e. the number who are unemployed divided by the number who are either in paid work or unemployed, excluding those who are ‘economically inactive’ from both the numerator and the denominator). The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has risen sharply in the current recession, from 15% in 2008 to 19% in 2009 and then to 20% in 2010.  However, the rate had already been rising for a number of years before the recession, from 12% in 2004 to 15% in 2008.  These rises have collectively more than offset the falls during the 1990s and, as a result, the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds in 2010 was actually higher than its previous peak in 1993.  Qualitatively, the unemployment rate for older workers (25 to retirement) has followed a similar pattern: falling from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, then rising from 2004 to 2010, with a sharp rise between 2008 and 2009.  Quantitatively, however, the falls from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s were greater for older workers than for those aged 16 to 24.  As a result, the unemployment rate for older workers in 2010 was still lower than that in the early 1990s.

Putting this point another way: the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is now more than three times the rate for older workers.  By contrast, in the mid-1990s, it was ‘just’ twice the rate for older workers.

As a result, two-fifths of all those who are unemployed are now aged under 25.  Averaging across 2008 to 2010, the unemployment rate was higher for young men than for young women: 20% compared with 15%.  This contrasts with the situation for those aged 25 to retirement, where the unemployment rates for men and women are similar. At 22%, the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is highest in London.

As for those young people not in education employment or training (NEET) Government spokesmen are keen to tell us that the NEET figure for 16-18 year olds at the end of 2010,  was 141,800 (7.3 per cent).  Rates vary considerably with age – 2.3 per cent of 16-year-olds, 6.8 per cent of 17-year-olds and 12.4 per cent of 18-year-olds. These figures are surprisingly good given the economic backdrop, although they tell you nothing   of course about the quality of the  education, training or employment.  And what officials are less willing to publicise is that the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds NEET has risen to 18.4%. This is the highest percentage for the second quarter since 2006, and is up from 16.3% last year. Nearly a million (979,000) 16 to 24-year-olds were Neet between April and June this year, the figures show.




  1. Dear Patrick

    unfortunately you seem to have relied on some dodgy headline date from the LFS

    You need this


    (A101 table 14)

    (and table CLA 02)

    The 979,000 fig Is not the NEETS figure (it includes people in FT education!) as do the rest of the figures you quote! It’s NFE who are of concern.

    I am investigating the one year ..three year figures. They are only in some consultants report.

    If it is NEETS you are after start here:


    note this:

    >For most young people, being NEET is a temporary outcome as they move between different education and training options – surveys estimate that only 1 per cent of young people are NEET at ages 16, 17 and 18<.

    I don't know what this means.

    Incidentally the statisticians at ONS as you know are user friendly. I don't know at DEd

    Flows are more important in managing employment than stocks (only useful to economists!)

    Peter Copping

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