One in Five Young People on Furlough Have Since Lost Their Jobs

Young people and those from ethnic minorities are least protected by the government's Job Retention Scheme, a new report finds.
October 27, 2020, 10:30pm
A bartender pulling pints in a London pub.
Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images

One in five 18 to 24-year-olds who were furloughed during the pandemic ended up losing their jobs, a new report from the Resolution Foundation has found.

According to the think-tank’s “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” report, this post-furlough fall into unemployment is most common among young people and ethnic minorities. Nineteen percent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 22 percent of ethnic minority workers lost their jobs while furloughed.

Resolution Foundation attribute this to the fact that young people and those from ethnic minorities are more likely to work in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, including leisure, retail and hospitality.

The figures come at a time when young people in Britain face the worst youth unemployment crisis since the 1980s. The Job Retention Scheme, launched in March by Rishi Sunak, is set to come to an end this week, threatening another drastic rise in unemployment across the UK.

But the Resolution Foundation claims that UK unemployment may actually be higher than previously reported. According to its report, which surveyed 6,061 people, unemployment was at 7 percent in September – far higher than the government figure of 4.5 percent in the three months leading up to August. This figure jumps to 20 percent among 18 to 24-year-olds.

This dramatic rise in unemployment, the Resolution Foundation says, is in part due to the difficulty of finding new work when unemployed. Fewer than 43 percent of people who lost their job in March had found new work by September, and only 33 percent of young people had found new work by this point.

Richard Rigby, head of policy and public affairs at youth charity The Prince’s Trust, said: “These figures reflect what we’re seeing at The Prince’s Trust, which is young people being hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic. The picture is quite bleak, as they already make up 60 percent of the fall in employment since the pandemic began. Yet, it’s very possible we’ll see a further spike in young people falling out of employment as we head into winter.”

“It’s critical for employers, government and charities to work together to help young people to up-skill, re-skill and remain work ready, particularly those from our most diverse communities who COVID continues to impact disproportionately,” he continued. “By giving young people confidence, and providing employment and training opportunities, we can most effectively avoid longer-term unemployment and prevent further disruption to a generation just starting their working lives.”