Youth unemployment could be starting to fall
There are still 728,000 young people aged 18-24 out of work. And 159,000 of them have been unemployed for over 12 months. But today’s labour market figures showed that between September – October 2009 the total number of young people out of work fell by by 29,000. This is the first time since April 2008 that there has been a significant reduction in the number of young unemployed people – and while it’s too early to know if this is a start of a trend, it is definitely an encouraging sign, supporting the hypothesis that Government action is working – it could be time to ask the Conservative party to explain why they would cut programmes that are preventing long-term worklessness.
The headline measures of unemployment – ILO and claimant count – also shows falling numbers of people out of work. A monthly reduction (between September – October) of 33,000 in the former measure, and 15,200 (November-December) in the latter. In particular, the number of people experiencing short periods of unemployment is going down, a monthly reduction of 44,000 – the 4th month in a row that the total has fallen. While some commentators have been keen to point out that economic inactivity has increased, the quarterly increase in these levels is mainly a result of more people becoming students – while the number of people inactive as a result of study increased by 81,000 on the quarter, the number who were long-term sick showed a small fall of 4,000.
But in contrast the number of people out of work for over 12 months is continuing to rise, with an increase of 13,000 on the month. The number of full-time jobs is also still falling, albeit at a slower rate than we’ve seen in recent releases (12,000 on the month). And the proportions of people in temporary jobs who would like full-time work are still going up – 32.2 per cent of temporary staff are now unable to find permanent positions.
The labour market is still far from healthy and major challenges remain. In particular, we would like to see the introduction of a job guarantee policy for all adults facing long-term unemployment, not just for young people. However, there there are some emerging signs that Government investment is having an impact, which could mean that we manage avoid some of the catastrophically high levels of worklessness created by previous recessions.