Recovery in youth employment is still lagging, according to a new report by the International Labor Organization, which confirms that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt young people more than any other age group.
The “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2022: Investing in transforming futures for young people” report finds that the pandemic has exacerbated the numerous labor market challenges facing those aged between 15 and 24 years, who have experienced a much higher percentage loss in employment than adults since early 2020.
The total global number of unemployed youths is estimated to reach 73 million in 2022, a slight improvement from 2021 (75 million) but still six million above the pre-pandemic level of 2019, the report says.
The share of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2020 – the latest year for which a global estimate is available – rose to 23.3 per cent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the previous year and a level not seen in at least 15 years.
This group of young people are at particular risk of seeing their labor market opportunities and outcomes deteriorate also over the longer-term as “scarring” effects take hold.
Young women are worse off than young men, exhibiting a much lower employment-to-population ratio.
In 2022, 27.4 percent of young women globally are projected to be in employment, compared to 40.3 percent of young men. This means that young men are almost 1.5 times more likely than young women to be employed.
The gender gap, which has shown little sign of closing over the past two decades, is largest in lower-middle-income countries, at 17.3 percentage points, and smallest in high-income countries, at 2.3 percentage points.
The recovery in youth unemployment is projected to diverge between low- and middle-income countries on the one hand and high-income countries on the other.
High income countries are the only ones expected to achieve youth unemployment rates close to those of 2019 by the end of 2022, while in the other country income groups, the rates are projected to remain more than 1 percentage point above their pre-crisis values, says the report.
The unemployment rate of young people in the Asia and Pacific region is projected to reach 14.9 percent in 2022, the same as the global average, although there are important divergences between subregions and countries.