Young people’s prospects were worse in the 80s
Various sections of the media, as well both opposition parties, have been keen to point out that the current youth unemployment rate of 19.8% is a ‘record’. This is accurate, as ONS have only published data in this series 1992. But Labour Force Surveys were carried out in the 1980s, and historical data can be accessed here (see Table 11 – figures from 1992 onwards are not the best nor the most up to date data, and so shouldn’t be used, but the 1980s data is helpful).
A quick calculation reveals that in 1984 (several years after growth had already returned) 2,091,000 young people aged 16-24 (26% of the total population) were unemployed and not in full-time education or were economically inactive and not in full-time education. From July-September 2009 the comparable figure was 1,578,000, 21% of all 16-24 year olds. This is unacceptably high, and is rightly a matter of great concern. But it’s also important to remember lessons from the past – when Governments don’t invest the problem becomes far worse.