Press Story

ippr's new analysis highlights that mixed ethnic groups have seen the biggest overall increases in unemployment, rising from 21% in March 2008 to 35% in November 2009. The smallest increase (6 percentage points) has been among young Asian people but overall unemployment among this group is still high at 31%. Overall youth unemployment currently stands at almost 943,000 (18%) of 16-24 year olds out of work, a 15 year high.

ippr shows that, while white young people have seen a sharp increase in the rate of unemployment, most other ethnic minority groups entered the recession with much higher rates of unemployment. In the last recession of the early 1990s, unemployment among ethnic minorities rose by 10 percentage points, compared with a 6 percentage point increase overall. The findings suggest the government's pledge last year to 'shield' ethnic minorities by targeting support at disadvantaged groups has not proven effective.

ippr argues that this evidence shows that the government must urgently consider alternative measures to prevent long-term unemployment among these groups, such as increasing the number of job placements in disadvantaged areas through the Future Jobs Fund, the government's job creation scheme for young people.

Download the technical briefing (pdf, 4 pages)

Lisa Harker, Co-Director of ippr said:

"These findings are a worrying reminder that although the recession is affecting all young people, those from ethnic minorities or with fewer qualifications are far more likely to become part of a generation lost to unemployment and disadvantage.

Extra action should be considered, such as increasing the number of Future Jobs Fund places in disadvantaged areas. This would ensure more young people can learn new skills and stay close to the labour market while looking for permanent work. With fewer jobs available for young people, the government must do all it can to reduce the impact of the recession."

Other ippr findings include:

School leavers are far worse affected than graduates - despite a recent spike in graduate unemployment

  • Among 16 to 24 year olds, unemployment is highest for those with no qualifications at 43% - an 11% increase since March 2008.
  • There has, however, been a recent spike in unemployed graduates in the last few months, reflecting the 'class of 2009' graduates -17% of graduates are unemployed, a 10% increase since March 2008.

Young men fare worse than young women

  • 22% of male graduates are unemployed, compared to just 13% of females.
  • Young men with GCSEs or equivalent qualifications are worse hit than young women with the same qualifications (27% and 21% unemployed respectively)
  • However, worst hit across all age groups are young women with no qualifications with unemployment at 46%, an increase of nearly 18% since March 2008. This reflects widespread job losses in the retail, hotel and catering industries, but may affect relatively low absolute numbers.

Biggest increases in youth unemployment in areas dependent on manufacturing and construction industries, apart from London

  • Wales, North East and North West England have seen the biggest increases in youth unemployment, followed by the West Midlands and Northern Ireland.
  • Youth unemployment is highest in the North East of England (27%). London has the second highest rate of youth unemployment (27%).

Notes to Editors

1. ippr's analysis uses the latest available data from the Labour Force Survey to break down youth unemployment data by qualification, gender, ethnicity, industry and region to show who has been worst affected since before the recession began in early 2008.

3. Data from the Labour Force Survey, comparing between 2008Q1 and 2009Q3 is used for this analysis. A Technical Briefing is available on request from the press office.

4. The evidence cited on patterns of disadvantage in past recessions is from Richard Berthoud (2009) 'Patterns of non-employment, and of disadvantage, in a recession', Working Paper No. 2009-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex.

5. ippr's Now It's Personal: Citizen-centred welfare project is examining how to create a more responsive and effective welfare system built around citizens' needs.

6. The Impact of the Recession on Northern City Regions, was published by ippr in October 2009 and showed that unemployment has increased most since March 2008 in areas where it was already high. The increase in unemployment has been greatest in areas with above average reliance on manufacturing activity for employment. The worst hit areas include the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside.


Kelly O'Sullivan, Media Officer, 020 7470 6125 / 0775 719 289 /

Tim Finch, Director of Strategic Communications, 020 7470 6106 / 07595 920 899 /