Young people worst affected by pandemic job losses, warns think tank

Young people – especially young blacks – were hardest hit by job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, a think tank warned.

The Resolution Foundation (RF), which focuses on the low and middle income, said the brunt of unemployment has been seen in sectors such as hospitality and leisure, which tend to employ large numbers of young people.

It found that the unemployment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds rose from 11.5% to 13.6% between April and June and between July and September 2020 – the largest quarter-on-quarter increase for this age group since 1992.

RF said people ages 16 to 24 also accounted for 57% of the decline in employment between the three months ended January 2020 and the three months ended January 2021.

It added that those who left training during the pandemic faced particular difficulties. Unemployment among graduates without a degree rose from 14% to 18% between 2019 and 2020.

For graduates, it rose from 10% to 14%.

The analysis also found that the crisis had widened the gap in unemployment between different ethnic groups, particularly among school leavers.

Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate among young people with black backgrounds was 25%, compared with 21% for people of Asian background and 10% for people with white background.

However, during the crisis that number rose by more than a third to 35% among young blacks, compared with 24% among people of Asian background and 13% among whites.

RF senior research and policy analyst Kathleen Henehan said, “The vacation program has done a fantastic job of minimizing job losses in the face of unprecedented economic stagnation.

“But young people still saw a sharp rise in unemployment during the Covid-19 crisis – with the youngest graduates and young blacks being hardest hit.

“Young people sacrificed their livelihoods to save the lives of others from Covid-19 and getting their careers going again must be a priority for the government in the months and years to come.”

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