The Global Youth Unemployment Crisis

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The Global Youth Unemployment Crisis

It's not a new phenomenon that youth employment is hit the hardest in tough economic times. Typically, young people are the "last in" and the "first out" of the workforce throughout an economic slump and recovery.

But the Great Recession has particularly impacted youths worldwide. A recently released report titled "Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update," published by the UN's International Labour Organization, provides numbers that bring the story into sharp focus.1

Between 2008 and 2009, an unprecedented 4.5 million young people around the globe joined the ranks of the unemployed. This compares to less than 100,000 per year becoming unemployed during the years 1997 to 2007.

Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update

Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update

This 4.5 million increase represents the largest annual jump in youth unemployment in the 20 years that global data has been collected. This sharp rise has reversed rates that had been declining since 2002.

At the peak of the job shortage in 2009, there were 75.8 million unemployed youth. By late 2010, that number had dropped slightly to 75.1 million. For 2011, that number is expected to drop further to 74.6 million; however, the report suggests this isn't because more young people are finding jobs, but rather it is because more of them are simply giving up on job searching, especially in developed economies.

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While youth unemployment may have dropped on a global scale, in the developed economies and the European Union, the rate continued to climb in 2010.

Long-term youth unemployment in most developed economies is greater than that of adults. A young person in Italy, for example, is three times more likely than an adult to be unemployed for at least one year.

Ireland typifies the crisis. The youth unemployment rate surged from 9 percent in 2007 to 27.5 percent in 2010. What adds to the concern is the estimate that the unemployment rate would actually be 19.3 percent higher if it included those who have given up and reentered the education system or have moved in with parents while waiting for things to improve.

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The withdrawal of youth from the workforce has resulted in a much smaller expansion of the youth labor force than was expected based on long-term trends leading up to the crisis years...

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