Monday, September 26, 2011

26/09/2011: Youth unemployment problem

The latest QNHS data for unemployment in Ireland - discussed in detail here - was not a pretty picture by any means. But the ugliness of age-breakdown in unemployment is something else altogether.

Now, recall that Ireland is a young country. Per CSO, 1.5% of our workforce is age 15-19, 6.7% age 20-24, 28.9% age 24-35 and a full 37.1% of the workforce is aged less than 35. This has many good implications for the economy and the prospect for future growth, but it also places some tough demands on the economy. You see, young people are quite pesky subjects. They (unreasonably - from our, older folks point of view) want in life:
  • Improved prospects for the future as far as their careers, earnings, quality of life etc go,
  • Good chances for beating their parents performance in terms of gaining jobs and progressing up the career ladders,
  • Ability to enjoy some of younger years' offers of decent consumption, comforts of some certainty in life, while earning returns to their efforts and education.
Not exactly an easy bunch to satisfy, younger people tend to be more mobile. And the greater their skills set / potential, the more they invested in education or training, the more mobile they are. This is why, in my view, the idea of the 'demographic dividend' is a bit of a silly old hat - the dividend is there (or rather here, in Ireland) if and only if the asset is here.

But the QNHS data does not lie (well, kinda - it does lie in so far as it underestimates true extent of unemployment by omitting those over-extending their education and training in the absence of jobs). The assets we have in the form of our younger people are... err... extremely highly jobless, pretty much deprived of hope of gaining any of the above points.

Here are some stats, all from QNHS for Q2 2011.
  • 38,400 males of age 15-24 and 116.2 males of age 25-44 were unemployed in Q2 2011
  • 25,100 females aged 15-24 and 53,900 females of age 25-44 were also unemployed in Q2 2011
However, these absolute numbers do not tell the entire story as the size of the labour force itself has been changing over time (shrinking). In terms of unemployment rates:
  • Overall unemployment rate for those under the age of 20 is now at 40.1%, implying that a person aged 15-19 who wants to be employed is facing 2.8 times higher probability of not having a job than an average person in the workforce. For the age group of 20-24 years of age, these numbers, respectively are 27.7% and 1.94 times. For those in their prime employment years - 25-34 year olds - the numbers are 16.5% and 1.16 times.
  • A woman of age 15-19 is facing unemployment rate of 33.7%, while her slightly older counterpart of age 20-24 is facing probability of unemployment of 21.8%.
Dramatic as the above figures are, the picture is much worse for males:
  • A young male of age 15-19 seeking employment is facing unemployment rate of 46.1%, while a male of age 20-24 is facing the prospect of 33.7% unemployment. Unemployment amongst males age 25-34 is 21.5%.
This is desperate, folks. But it gets worse. per Table S9b in QNHS, in Q2 2011, of all persons aged 18-24:
  • 79% of all early school leavers were either unemployed or not economically active a number that rose from 77% in Q1 2011
  • 59% of all other persons in this age category were either unemployed or not economically active, same as in Q1 2011
For comparison, for all persons 25-64 years of age, the above numbers were:
  • 55% of all early school leavers either unemployed or not economically active, up from 54% in Q1 2011
  • 27% of all other persons either unemployed or not economically active, down from 28% in Q1 2011.
This is a dire prospect for our 'demographic capital', folks, as it shows that the gap by age for even educated unemployed is a vast 22 percentage points - statistically most likely indifferent from the same gap for those with little or no education.

1 comment:

AL said...

Thanks to the Unions and Government for the Minimum Wage legislation which also prices many youngsters out of the market and makes employing people expensive.