Global youth unemployment to soar by half a million this year

8 May 13
The number of young people out of work worldwide is expected to increase by half a million this year, as the fall in unemployment achieved since the peak of the global financial crisis is reversed, the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation said today.

By Nick Mann | 8 May 2013

The number of young people out of work worldwide is expected to increase by half a million this year, as the fall in unemployment achieved since the peak of the global financial crisis is reversed, the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation said today.

In , the UN agency forecast the number of 15-29 year olds out of work worldwide would reach 73.4 million this year, 12.6% of the young workforce, up from 72.9 million last year, when the jobless rate was 12.4%. By 2018, the ILO expects the youth unemployment rate to have increased further, to 12.8%.

According to the ILO, the increase is reversing gains made since the peak of the global financial crisis in 2009, when 75.6 million young people were out of work, with the jobless rate reaching 12.7%. It then fell to 12.5% in 2010 and 12.3% in 2011.

The report attributed this to the weakening of the global recovery in 2012 and 2013 which had ‘further aggravated the youth jobs crisis’. It added: ‘The queues for available jobs have become longer and longer for some unfortunate young jobseekers. So long, in fact, that many youth are giving up on the job search.’

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, the ILO’s assistant director-general for policy, said the increase in youth unemployment showed the need to focus policies on growth, education and training systems and targeted actions to improve youth employment.

‘Employers, education providers and youth often live in parallel universes, they do not sufficiently engage with each other. We know a lot about what works but real impact and scale can only be achieved through close partnerships and collective action,’ he explained.

The ILO’s report raised particular concerns over the lack of progress made in reducing the youth unemployment rate in advanced economies since 2009. The percentage of young people out of work in these countries in 2012 was 18.1%, the same as in 2010. According to the ILO’s forecasts, it will remain above 17% until 2016.

If the large number of young people who had stopped actively seeking employment were factored into these figures, the total would be even higher, the report said – increasing from the 10.7 million who were actually unemployed in 2012 to 13 million.

Last week, figures from the European Union’s statistical service Eurostat revealed that the youth unemployment rate in the eurozone reached a record high of 23.5% in March.

The ILO also highlighted the high rates of unemployment in the developing world. Last year’s highest regional youth unemployment rate was recorded in the Middle East where 28.4% young people were jobless. This is expected to increase to 30% by 2018.

Salazar-Xirinachs also called for action to tackle the growth in long-term unemployment among young people. More than a third of young people were classed as ‘long-term unemployed’ in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries in 2011, up from a quarter in 2008.

‘The long-term consequences of persistently high youth unemployment include the loss of valuable work experience and the erosion of occupational skills,’ he said. ‘Moreover, unemployment experiences early in the career of a young person are likely to result in wage scars that continue to depress employment and earnings’ prospects even decades later.’

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