Young adult unemployment
Graphs on this page:
- 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 16% in 2008 to 24% in 2010. However, the rate had already been rising for a number of years before the recession, from 12% in 2004 to 16% 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 much 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 2010. 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.
- The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds in Wales is somewhat above the United Kingdom average.
- See the indicator on the wider issue of lack of work among working-age adults as a whole.
Definitions and data sources
The first graph shows the unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24, compared with those aged 25 and over (up to retirement).
The second graph shows the same information but in terms of the actual numbers unemployed.
The third graph shows how unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds in Wales compares with the rest of the United Kingdom. To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest three years.
‘Unemployment’ is the ILO definition, which is used for the official government unemployment numbers. It comprises all those with no paid work in the survey week who were available to start work in the next fortnight and who either looked for work in the last month or were waiting to start a job already obtained.
The unemployment rate is the percentage of the economically active population who are unemployed (i.e. the number who are unemployed divided by the number who are either in paid work or unemployed).
The data source for all the graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year.
Overall adequacy of the indicator: high. The LFS is a large, well-established, quarterly government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole.