Youth unemployment is almost certain to breach the one million barrier, official figures will show tomorrow, with the total number of Britons out of work exceeding 2.5million. Such figures, echoing the peaks in joblessness seen in the 1980s and 1990s, will be severely embrassing to the Labour Government.
Last month, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds out of work was 947,000, or about one in five. The impact of the recession is exacerbated by the hundreds of thousands of school-leavers and graduates now trying to find a job.
Yesterday, the Trades Union Congress said more than one in three young people – 366,000 – had been out of work for more than six months, the worst since 1994. The West Midlands, hit hard by the slump in manufacturing, has the grimmest prospects and youth unemployment running at 26.7 per cent.
The burden of joblessness is also being disproportionately borne by men, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). It said male unemployment had risen by almost 50 per cent in the recession, while the number of jobless women was 33.4 per cent higher.
Almost one in five black men were unemployed – more than double the rate for white British men and other ethnic groups, the CIPD added.
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: "This is a crisis for our young people. Prolonged periods of joblessness permanently damage careers. Without continued government investment we risk losing this generation, who are vital to our future labour market performance."
The former Bank of England policymaker David Blanchflower added: "Spells of unemployment, especially ones of long duration, hurt young people later in their working lives. We need to prevent these young people from becoming a lost generation."