One in 10 young people lost their job during covid-19 pandemic

There is a real concern that people who have lost their jobs are moving onto trajectories heading to long-term unemployment
- Professor Stephen Machin

More than one in 10 people aged 16 - 25 have lost their job, and just under six in 10 have seen their earnings fall since the coronavirus pandemic began, new research shows.

The study found young workers to be twice as likely to have lost their jobs compared to older employees and that employment and earnings losses are more pronounced for women, the self-employed and those who grew up in a poor family.

The survey, carried out by academics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Exeter University, provides further evidence that young people are suffering substantial and sustained losses, not only to their employment, but also their education.

Part of a new report - Generation COVID and Social Mobility: Evidence and Policy - published today (Monday 26 October) by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), the report finds that just four in 10 school pupils received full-time schooling during April, with a quarter receiving no teaching at all. In early October only around six in 10 pupils were experiencing full-time teaching.

During April, nearly three quarters (74%) of private school pupils were benefitting from full school days - nearly twice the proportion of state school pupils (38%).

The survey also highlights inequalities in higher education. University students from the lowest income backgrounds lost 52% of their normal teaching hours as a result of lockdown, but those from the highest income groups suffered a smaller loss of 40%.

A total of 63% of the university students who took part in the study said their wellbeing has been affected by the pandemic, 62% said their long-term plans have been affected, and 68% said they believed their future educational achievement will be affected by coronavirus.

The initial findings come from a survey of around 10,000 people taken during September and October 2020. Overall, 5.4% of people who took part in the research said they had lost their job, a further 7.3% reported that they were still in work, but working zero hours meaning 12.7% were workless. There was a higher rate of worklessness for those aged 16 to 25 (18.3%) than for those aged 26 to 65 (11.9%).

Professor Stephen Machin, director of the CEP and report co-author, said: “These are very significant hits to the labour market for young adults in particular. There is a real concern that people who have lost their jobs are moving onto trajectories heading to long-term unemployment, the costs of which are substantial.” 

Professor Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter and report co-author, said: “We are seeing large and sustained losses in education for school pupils and university students in the wake of the pandemic, with those from lower-income backgrounds particularly suffering. The big danger for pupils is that they suffer permanent educational scarring - missing out on key grades that can shape future life prospects.”

Andrew Eyles, research economist at the Centre for Economic Performance, said: “Our research findings of substantial and continuing education loss add to growing evidence that disadvantaged students have fallen behind their more privileged peers due to differences in school provision, and the stark home learning divide in study space, computers and internet connectivity and access to paid tutoring.”

Pupils were judged to have had full school days in April if parents reported four or more lessons (either online or offline) or five or more hours schooling. In the autumn survey, participants were asked what percentage of their normal teaching hours they received. In September and October 2020 parents reported one in five pupils were off school, with six in 10 pupils benefitting from full schooling.

A total of 9% of parents reported paying for private tutoring during lockdown. Parents in the highest quartile of incomes were over four times as likely to pay for private tutoring during lockdown than those in the lowest quartile of incomes (15.7% compared with 3.8%).

This research will feature on BBC One’s Panorama programme at 7.30pm tonight (Monday 26 October).

Read the full report: Generation COVID and Social Mobility: Evidence and Policy

Behind the article

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.