Are we heading for a millennial jobs crisis?

Today, we had the news from the Office for National Statistics that 25-34 year olds are at the biggest risk of losing their jobs with their redundancy rate soaring five-fold since last March to 16.2 per 1,000 in the three months to November 2020. This compares to 14.4 for the over 50s and 12.8 for 35 – 49 year olds.

Overall, job losses slowed in November, thanks to the confirmed extension of the furlough, but there was a spike in September and October when employers thought government support for employees’ wages was coming to an end.

Iona Bain, founder of Young Money Blog and author of upcoming book OWN IT!, comments:

This is frightening news, showing that it’s not just the youngest members of the workforce who are bearing the economic brunt of lockdown. Older millennials should be more settled and resilient at this point in their lives: in truth, they are still living with the legacy of the last financial crash in 2008.

Until now it was commonly thought that gen Z, roughly defined as aged 18 – 25, would be the hardest hit by restrictions, given their reliance on part-time and insecure work in the hospitality and retail sectors. Millennial jobs have not been as much of a concern.

But it’s becoming clear the pain will be felt much more widely among young people, with millennials set for a real one-two punch. They have already experienced the scarring effect of the last recession, when younger people endured lower incomes for longer compared to previous cohorts. All this means many millennials find themselves financially far behind where their older family members and colleagues were at the same age.

The Chancellor has tried to address the potential youth unemployment crisis ahead through the Kickstart Jobs scheme, though only 2000 young people have started placements so far out of a total 120,000 applications. These frozen placements represent thousands of lives put on hold as we go through what will hopefully be our last lockdown (thanks to vaccines). We can only hope employers trying to do the right thing won’t lose patience with the administrative logjam and fall away.

But as the Kickstart Jobs scheme only applies to 16-24 year olds, it won’t address the serious millennial jobs crisis coming our way. We desperately need to redress the balance in our national policies and priorities so that millennials aren’t forgotten for a second time, while also taking care of the children, teenagers and 20 somethings who have made huge educational and income sacrifices for the national good.

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