JRF: Youth unemployment rates rocket in Wales

The economic downturn in Wales has had a dramatic impact on the level of youth unemployment, according to new research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

In a report released today, the JRF revealed that 16% of young adults in Wales aged between 16 and 25 were unemployed in 2008, up from 12% in 2004, and compared with an overall unemployment rate of 6%. The figures show that 45% of all unemployed people in Wales are under the age of 25.

Co-author Peter Kenway, from the New Policy Institute, said that the high level of youth unemployment was the most significant aspect of the recession.

He added: “If this situation persists, the risk may be of a new generation lacking the experience, qualifications and self-belief to provide for themselves and their families.

“A big concern now is how to slow down and reverse the trends recently seen in the Welsh economy to prevent even more people falling below the poverty line. It is vital, especially in the midst of a recession, that the needs of people living in poverty continue to be prioritised.”

The report called for take-up of jobseeker’s allowance to be promoted as a way of lessening the impact of the recession on poverty.

The report also pointed to a sharp increase in child poverty over the last few years, reversing the downward trend seen since the mid-1990s. Recent government figures have shown that the rate of child poverty in Wales reached 32% in 2007-8 compared with a low point of 28% in 2005-6. The rate in 1998-9 was 36%.

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