The government is coming under pressure to provide back-to-work support for young people amid evidence that the under-25s have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 economic fallout.
In a report published on Tuesday ahead of unemployment figures expected to show the first signs of the pandemic’s impact on the labour market, the Resolution Foundation said younger and older workers were the most likely to have lost their jobs or had their incomes reduced.
The thinktank said ministers should be considering job guarantees to prevent young people being permanently scarred by the crisis.
Maja Gustafsson, researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Our research confirms fears that young people are being hardest hit in the current crisis. One in three young people have been furloughed or lost their jobs completely, and over one in three have had their pay reduced since the crisis started.”
Large numbers of young people are employed in the sectors most severely affected by the lockdown – such as leisure, retail and hospitality.
The Resolution Foundation said 23% of employees aged 18-24 had been furloughed and a further 9% had lost their jobs completely. By comparison, among the least affected age group – those aged between 35 and 44 – 15% had been furloughed or lost their jobs.
Young people were also the most likely to have had their pay cut, with 35% earning less than they did at the start of the crisis and 9% earning more.
Employment and wages data to be released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday will cover the quarter ending in March and include the first few days of the lockdown.
Gustafsson said young people were not the only group who were experiencing big income shocks. “Britain is experiencing a U-shaped living standards crisis, with workers in their early 60s also badly affected.
“That is why the government’s strategy to support the recovery should combine targeted support to help young people into work, with more general stimulus to boost demand across the economy and help households of all ages.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said: “Our research shows five years of employment growth was wiped out in one month. The government’s actions have prevented things being worse. But we need to act now to prevent permanent damage to our economy: investing in young people; mobilising back-to-work support; and making sure we help those left behind before the crisis.”