“We actually have record low youth unemployment. There are more jobs available for young people than we’ve ever had before.”
During an interview on the ‘Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg’ show on BBC One, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt claimed that the level of youth unemployment in the UK was at a record low and that the number of jobs available to young people was higher than it had ever been.
Although this is true when comparing annual data, quarterly data shows that the level of youth unemployment has risen since it reached a record low last summer, while the overall number of vacancies available to all job seekers has fallen.
The way statistics are presented is a crucial part of how they are interpreted and understood by the public. If data is presented without clear context or obvious caveats, it can give an incomplete or misleading picture.
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When measured across the whole of 2022, the rate of youth unemployment was 10.5%, which is the lowest one-year rate on record since records began in 1992.
However, we can also look at how youth unemployment has changed using data broken down by three month periods. This shows that the unemployment rate reached an all-time low of 9% during June-August 2022 when there were 372,000 unemployed young people.
But since then, the figure has grown, reaching a peak of 11.3% between October and December 2022. According to a recent briefing paper from the House of Commons Library, the number of unemployed young people rose to 471,000 during this period of time, up 72,000 from the previous quarter and up 10,000 from a year earlier.
The latest available data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows the unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 was at 10.8% between November 2022 and January 2023.
Although there has been a decline in youth unemployment in the latest data, the most recent quarterly rate of 10.8% is not a historic low as the percentage was lower in every three month period between January-March 2022 and August-October 2022, with the exception of February-April 2022 when it was also 10.8%. It also previously fell to 10.8% during January-March 2019.
However, the current rate is significantly lower than the peak of 22.5% which was reached during September-November 2011.
Mr Hunt’s statement that there are “more jobs available for young people than we’ve ever had before” is no longer true.
The overall number of job vacancies rose to a record 1.3 million between March and May 2022. Between November and January 2023, the overall number of job vacancies fell to 1.12 million.
According to the ONS: “Vacancy numbers fell on the quarter for the eighth consecutive period in December 2022 to February 2023, down by 4.3% since September to November 2022, with vacancies falling in 12 of the 18 industry sectors.”
Research by the Resolution Foundation published in February 2023 found there had been a sharp rise in the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in recent months.
It said: “The number of 16-24-year-olds who are NEET rose by 64,000 between July-September and October-December 2022, and this was entirely driven by an increase in the number of young people who are NEET and unemployed, which increased by 65,000.
“Although overall NEET rates remain low in historic terms – and are well below the rates seen in the aftermath of the financial crisis – this uptick in recent months is concerning.”
Image courtesy of the Houses of Parliament