The always excellent Joseph Rowntree Foundation released its annual report today (24th November, 2014) and it makes for interesting reading with regards to young people.
It presents a mixed bag. For instance, in terms of unemployment it reports that:
In the first half of 2014, 18 per cent of economically active adults aged 16–24 were unemployed, compared with 5 per cent of economically active adults aged 25 and over. For young adults, this is a fall of 2.8 percentage points compared with 2013, and the second consecutive yearly fall.
This is, of course, welcome news. But the unemployment rate remains above its 2008 level. And it is still the case that young adults (18-24) are three times as likely to be unemployed as their older contemporaries. And this remains a major concern – we know that a significant period of post-school unemployment is likely to have a scarring effect, resulting in young people carrying their labour market rejection into their adult life.
Tempering the good news regarding the fall in unemployment is other findings. The age cohorts 16-19 and 20-24 have seen the largest increases in terms of poverty – up to 34 and 29 per cent respectively are now living in poverty – both 6 percentage point increases. For youth researchers this will come as little surprise. The precarious nature of work is impacting on young people more than any other age group as the rise in short-term contracts, an unprecedented fall in real earnings and a rise in the cost of essentials continues to hit young adults harder. Contracts which do not guarantee a certain number of hours tend to be in areas of low pay, well below the living wage and concentrated in industries which tend to attract young people such as hospitality and retail.
We know that politicians tend to shrug this off, stating that these jobs are a ‘foot in the door’. Research shows this not to be the case, with a significant number of young people caught in the ‘churn’ – moving in and out of poorly paid, insecure work and government training schemes. Until serious attention is paid to the unique situation of young people’s poverty and labour market experiences then this situation is likely to worsen over the coming year with more cuts in the pipeline. This looks likely to be compounded by the removal of social security from young people should they fail to adhere to stricter guidelines being prepared by both major parties. Whatever government is formed next year, the outlook is not looking good for our young people. Sadly, barring a major policy about turn, next year’s report from the JRF is unlikely to see much improvement.
You can find the full Joseph Rowntree report here: http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/MPSE-2014-FULL.pdf
The Independent Newspaper is carrying a story on the report here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-young-arethe-new-poor-sharp-increase-in-the-number-of-under25s-living-in-poverty-while-over65s-are-better-off-than-ever-9878722.html