One in three young people are 'underemployed' at work

Nearly a million 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work, according to a report by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. And those who do have jobs are not being given enough hours.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The phrase 'underemployed youth' used to conjure up an image of the fresh-faced kid in the office making endless rounds of tea, texting his mates and wasting hours on Facebook. But in the wake of the global downturn, the issue of underemployed young people has become pressing.

After months of rising employment, the UK's jobless count suddently began to soar earlier this year, reaching 2.56 million in April. Before the recession, the unemployment rate stood at 6.2%. Five years on, NIESR's research shows that the proportion of the workforce who are now jobless or underemployed (NIESR's index combines unemployment figure with the number in work but not given the hours they want) has hit 9.9%. Over the same period the unemployment rate has also crept up from 5.8% to 8%.

The British workforce is being affected across the board and at all ages. However, NIESR's data shows that it is young people who are feeling most unemployment pain. The study, written by former Bank of England policy maker David Blanchflower and economist David Bell, found that 30% of the young people in employment wanted to work more but were unable to.

The news will make grim reading for the Prime Minister this morning. He has been banging the 'we create more jobs' drum for some time now.

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, was quick to go on the attack. 'Underemployment is the untold story of Britain's jobs crisis,' he said. 'Under David Cameron, one in ten people are now unable to pick up the hours they need to get by - not including the two and half million locked out of work all together.'

At least Britain has thus far escaped the crippling levels of unemployment in the eurozone...

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