Young people bear brunt of pandemic job cuts

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Date: 20 April 2021

Multi-ethnic millennial people holding phones and resumes preparing for job interview

The latest government data shows that under-35s account for 80% of the jobs lost in the past year.

The UK unemployment rate has dipped to 4.9% in the three months to February - down from 5% - according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It means that 811,000 payroll jobs have been lost in the UK in the year to March. Five million people are employed but still on furlough.

According to the ONS, people aged under 35 accounted for 635,000 payroll jobs lost in the year to March (representing 80% of job losses), with 436,000 of those positions held by people under 25 (representing 54% of job losses).

Commenting on the figures, Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "Unemployment remains on course to peak towards the end of 2021, once the furlough scheme expires and those who stopped job hunting during the pandemic look to return to the workforce as restrictions ease.

"Although the furlough scheme will limit the peak in job losses, the longer-term structural unemployment caused by COVID-19, particularly among young people, may mean that the road back to pre-pandemic levels lags behind the wider economic recovery."

The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) says that reversing the trend in youth unemployment will be key to driving economic recovery. It is calling on the government to abolish National Insurance Contributions for those under the age of 25 in order to boost recruitment of young people.

Dr Joe Marshall, NCUB chief executive, said: "This new data shows that 54% of those to have been left without work are under age 25. Supporting young people must be the top priority for the government. In no uncertain terms they must act now to avoid a 'lost generation'.

"The nation's young people have sacrificed their livelihoods so as to save the lives of others - we owe it to them to help their careers get back on track. The government should temporarily abolish National Insurance Contributions for young people under the age of 25. If the cost of hiring is lower, even more businesses from all sectors will be recruiting. As the UK emerges from lockdown, we must ensure that those who have lost out most economically, are given most support."

Also this week, a new study by Paymentsense has found that there has been an unprecedented increase in new businesses starting up across the UK in the past year. Its analysis of Companies House data reveals that 768,777 new businesses were started in 2020 - representing an uplift of 13%. According to the study, the third quarter of 2020 saw more businesses created than in the past three years, with 221,020 new companies starting up - coinciding with a time when redundancies reached a new high.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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