The gap is getting bigger

Feb 16, 2022

Our Analysis Manager, Andrea Barry, responds to February’s labour market statistics released this week. 

This week’s ONS statistics reveal a widening gap between young people in and out of education. We’re seeing a promising decline in economic inactivity for young people in education, but there is a concerning rise in economic inactivity for young people not in education. It is important to understand what is holding back young people who are not in education from finding employment opportunities.  

Another encouraging sign is the surge in payrolled young people, addressing the significant dip in employment this age group suffered during the pandemic.  

As with other age groups, median wages for 18-24-year-olds are largely stagnant, but are below the median wage for the UK. This may make young people more susceptible to the increasing costs-of-living. 

Here are further insights:

  • For 16–24-year-olds, 54.2% are employed, and 38.9% are economically inactive. In the previous quarter, this was 53.2% and 40% respectively. 
  • However, for 16–24-year-olds in full-time education, unemployment has dropped from 15.1% to 14.4% and economic inactivity rate has declined from 65.7% to 63.4%. 
  • For 16–24-year-olds not in full time education, the economic inactivity rate has increased slightly, from 17% to 17.1%. Unemployment has also increased marginally, from 9.8% to 10%. 
  • This trend persists for all age groups, 16-17 and 18-24, and for men and women.  
  • The biggest change is that 18–24-year-olds have seen the biggest increase in payrolled employees since January 2021. However, young people under 18 years of age saw a rise in employee growth to 73% during this period. Young people had the largest dip in employee growth during the pandemic.