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16 March 2011

Youth unemployment hits new record high

Total number of people out of work hits 2.53 million, the highest in 17 years, as joblessness among

By Samira Shackle

Unemployment has topped 2.5 million for the first time in a decade. The number of people out of work increased by 27,000 in the three months to January, bringing the total to 2.53 million.

Youth unemployment has also hit a new record high. Those between the ages of 18 and 24 seeking work are 20.6 per cent of the total, an increase of 0.8 per cent on last month’s figures and the highest since records began in 1992.

The steady growth in youth unemployment is a grave concern, one that our economics editor, David Blanchflower, has covered extensively.

As he wrote yesterday:

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A major concern is that the government is responding to the problem by trying to lower the youth unemployment statistics rather than reducing youth unemployment itself. Iain Duncan Smith has apparently written to the Office of National Statistics trying to get them to lower the figures. There remains a real danger that large numbers of youngsters will become a lost generation.

It’s also worth noting that there was a big jump this month in the number of unemployed in full-time education, up from 274,000 to 284,000. It is this group – people who are studying, but need a part-time job as well – that Duncan Smith reportedly wants to exclude from youth unemployment figures

With the abolition of EMA and the Future Jobs Fund, several options for young people have been removed (my colleague Sophie Elmhirst recently reported on the “lost generation”). We can only hope that next week’s Budget spells out a clear strategy for growth and specifically for tackling the mounting crisis facing Britain’s younger generation.