How has the pandemic altered the landscape for young people entering the job market? For the last 18 months, Covid-19 has led to unprecedented disruption across the world. While older people have been the most at risk from the virus itself, the young have disproportionately suffered from its economic fallout.
“The young jobless have been stuck in a Covid-19 limbo-land,” according to Sher Verick, from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
“This crisis has…not only led to the closure of businesses and job losses, but the lockdown measures have also severely constrained young people’s ability to search for a job.” The unemployment rate among young people was 14.6% in 2020, according to the ILO.
Economists distinguish between people who are unemployed and people who are “economically inactive”. Those who are out of work but are looking for a job are considered unemployed. People who are not actively looking for a job (this includes those who may have given up searching for employment), or are in the process of starting their own business, are considered “economically inactive”.
In Europe, the pandemic is also posing an economic threat to younger generations. Countries such as Spain and Italy were still recovering from the effect of the eurozone crisis when the pandemic struck. In Spain, the recovery went into reverse.
But stronger economies such as France and the UK were able to keep youth unemployment relatively stable. They used expensive government support schemes to make grants, loans, and tax breaks available to struggling businesses and help employers pay staff who have been unable to work.