Brexit could add to high youth jobless rates in UK cities


More doom and gloom for the young as a new study has revealed that more than a quarter of young people in many UK cities are unemployed, potentially undermining efforts to bring about "inclusive growth" following Brexit.

A report by the charity EY Foundation says "stark variations" in youth unemployment levels across the UK could have a knock-on effect on local economic growth.

(Frank Augstein/AP)
(Frank Augstein/AP)

Don't despair too much though, because the study also found that youth unemployment has dropped markedly over the past five years, and that levels are back to where they were before the global financial crisis and subsequent recession. In 2011 unemployment for 16 to 17 year-olds peaked at 40%, in comparison to the 28.7% that was found in March to May 2016.

The report, entitled The Employment Landscape For Young People In The UK, found that youth unemployment is consistently far higher in cities than in the broader regional areas.

So let's break it down - how do unemployment rates in cities compare to the regions?

In Middlesbrough 27.3% of youths were unemployed, and in Bradford the figure was 26%. These figures are markedly different to the 15% statistic for the wider Yorkshire and Humber region.

The Humber Bridge (Julia Hoyle/PA)
The Humber Bridge (Julia Hoyle/PA)

In Swansea it was 27.3%, against 17.4% for Wales. Wolverhampton was at 27%, while the West Midlands region as a whole came in at 15.5%.

Many commentators warned the vote to leave the EU had exposed deep social divisions across the country, and these findings could be seen to confirm this.

Mark Gregory, EY's chief economist, said: "Youth unemployment rates have fallen from the peaks we saw during the recession, when 40% of the UK's 16-17-year-olds were facing unemployment.

However, a stubbornly high number of young people remain excluded from the labour market, which could be further exacerbated by a period of weaker economic growth in these uncertain times ahead.

(Nick Ansell/PA)
(Nick Ansell/PA)

"History has shown us that young people are more exposed to economic volatility and industry restructuring than the population as a whole. The skills agenda is fast becoming one of the biggest priorities for UK business, with Brexit also likely to impose some restrictions to the free movement of labour in the future.

"It has never been more important to ensure the UK has the right mix of skills and talent, both nationally and locally, and young people are core to this."