In response to the unemployment figures announced today, the Social Market Foundation is warning that the primary focus on the rise in youth unemployment is misguided and excessive. This leads to policy responses that focus on the young to the exclusion of other unemployed people.

Ian Mulheirn, SMF Director said

"There is no good reason to single young people out as a special kind of tragedy in this recession - if anything they are taking less pain than older unemployed people right now.

The rate at which people in the 16-24 age group find work has bounced back strongly in recent months and is almost 50% higher than that for people aged 25-plus. And whilst there are studies suggesting that spells of unemployment can damage young people's future employment prospects, the evidence also suggests that this is just as much of a problem for older people.

Additionally many young people live at home, are not the sole wage earner in their household and tend to have fewer financial commitments. Older workers, by contrast tend to be much more exposed.

For these reasons fears of a ‘lost generation' from youth unemployment are overplayed: the calamity of rising unemployment for people over 25 is more serious."