More young workers in the UK lost their jobs during summer 2020 than in all of 2019

Kalila Sangster
·2-min read
Ezra Bailey
COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on sectors of the economy where young people tend to work, such as accommodation and food services. Photo: Getty

More young workers in the UK lost their jobs during the summer of 2020 than in all of 2019, according to new analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Some 59,000 workers aged 16 to 24 were made redundant between July and September this year, compared with 56,000 across all of 2019, the analysis found.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds in employment has plunged by 8% to 3.5 million — lower than during the 2008 financial crash — compared with 2% of all working adults.

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on sectors of the economy where young people tend to work, such as accommodation and food services.

Around 600,000 16- to 24-year-olds now face unemployment, “at a time when vacancy levels are hugely reduced,” said the TUC.

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Young employees were more likely to be furloughed than older people, in many cases causing a “pay penalty” for young workers as the Job Retention scheme does not stop people from dropping below the minimum wage while they are furloughed.

Some 423,000 16- to 24-year-olds were paid below the minimum wage — either whilst on furlough or for other reasons — in April 2020, compared to 64,000 a year before.

The TUC is calling on the government to create “good-quality jobs” across the UK for workers of all ages, while also providing specific help for hard-hit sectors like retail and hospitality — which have a high proportion of young employees. The TUC also wants the government to boost universal credit for young people who lose their jobs.

The union body has been calling for a youth jobs guarantee since May and supported the introduction of the government’s Kickstart scheme in November. But the TUC says that the scheme is “not yet effective as it doesn’t guarantee a high-quality sustainable job on a decent wage for every young unemployed person.”

The TUC is urging the government to invest in green transport and infrastructure and filling existing gaps and vacancies in public services to “create 1.8 million jobs over the next two years.”

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TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are on the edge of a national unemployment crisis. This generation of young workers must not be abandoned to mass unemployment.

“At next week’s spending review, we need action to create good new jobs across the country.”

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