Lost in the labour market: good jobs news masks growing concern for young unemployed

Press Releases

17 Apr 2015

Jim Hillage, IES Director of Research, comments on today's ONS Labour Market Statistics:

'Today’s labour market figures report another set of good headline statistics with a further 248,000 people finding jobs and unemployment down by 76,000 in the last quarter. The bulk of the most recent growth is in full-time rather than part-time work, and the recent trend towards self-employment seems to have gone into reverse, both possible indicators that the labour market is ‘normalising’ with less evidence of under-employment. However, these promising signs, with record levels of employment and falling unemployment continue mask serious problems at the younger end of the labour market.

'Youth unemployment, although down, is not falling as fast as for older job-seekers and is still a growing concern. The youth unemployment rate at 19 per cent is almost three times the adult rate - as high as it has ever been. Four out of ten unemployed people are aged under 25. Three out of ten young people who are unemployed have been without a job for over a year, with major negative implications for their future prospects. The ‘scarring effect’ of periods of unemployment while young is one of the undisputed facts of the labour market.

'So what are the parties offering as a remedy in their election manifestos? Not a lot!

'The Conservatives sweepingly vow to ‘abolish youth unemployment’ while not spelling out how. Labour will introduce a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee for young people unemployed for over a year, while both the Conservative and Labour parties want to introduce a Youth Allowance for young unemployed people, to replace Jobseekers Allowance, with some differences over benefit entitlement and mandatory training and/or work experience. The Liberal Democrats rather vaguely offer support like work experience placements to help young people get a first foot on the career ladder. Neither the Greens nor UKIP have anything specific about youth unemployment in their manifestos.

'The research evidence suggests that fixing the youth labour market will require the sort of integrated approach and level of expenditure to which none of the parties seem able to currently commit.'


About IES

The Institute for Employment Studies is the UK’s leading independent, not-for-profit centre for research and evidence-based consultancy on employment, the labour market, and HR policy and practice.


About Jim Hillage

Jim Hillage leads the Institute for Employment Studies’ work on UK public employment policy. He draws on over 30 years’ experience of researching into labour market and employment issues from an individual and an employer perspective, and evaluating the direct and indirect effect and impact of a range of policy interventions on employers, individuals and intermediaries.

View Jim Hillage 's full profile: www.employment-studies.co.uk/staff/jim-hillage 
IES tweets from @EmploymtStudies

Research evidence examples on the 'scarring effect'