Nearly three million people under 25 are ‘economically inactive‘ – the highest since records began, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics – amid fears Gen Z is stalling Britain’s economy.

Recruitment experts have blamed lockdown on younger workers being far less prepared for the workplace in recent years, with stark figures revealing the extent of people not employed, or looking for a job.

The pandemic saw older workers leaving the job market due to long-term sickness or opting for early retirement, but this trend has since reversed with many returning to work in search of cash.

Meanwhile, the number of 18 to 24-year-old who were economically inactive – described as being not employed or looking for a job – jumped 248,000 compared to last year, taking the total to its highest since ONS records began in 1992.

Some of these numbers can be attributed to a significant rise in young people attending university in the last 30 years, but concerns continue to grow over changing attitudes towards the workplace.

It comes as young people are seen on TikTok joking about life on the dole to their thousands of followers on social media. One TikTok shows a group of young people nodding their heads to music with the caption: ‘When the dole is doubling the money.’

Another video captioned ‘What life is like living off the dole’ shows a young man walking through a shopping centre and saying: ‘Today I’m going to be day drinking and smoking cigarettes at 2pm in the afternoon which I am quite excited to do.’

Another video, believed to be a parody, shows a woman showing a weekly benefits entitlement of £1,151 per week and saying: ‘Somebody please tell me why I would get a job when this is my weekly universal credits that I get?

‘I mean, why would I get a job. I get your monthly wage in a week… I’m living my f***ing best life.’

 

TikTok users joking about life on the dole to their thousands of followers on social media

TikTok users joking about life on the dole to their thousands of followers on social media

One TikTok video (pictured) shows a group of young people nodding their heads to music with the caption: 'When the dole is doubling the money'

Another video (pictured), believed to be a parody, shows a woman showing a weekly benefits entitlement of £1,151 per week and saying: 'Somebody please tell me why I would get a job when this is my weekly universal credits that I get?'

One TikTok video (left) shows a group of young people nodding their heads to music with the caption: ‘When the dole is doubling the money.’ Another video (right), believed to be a parody, shows a woman showing a weekly benefits entitlement of £1,151 per week and saying: ‘Somebody please tell me why I would get a job when this is my weekly universal credits that I get?’

Economists have also warned that a crisis in mental health has been behind a growth in worklessness amongst young people, who will have had their lives impacted by the Covid pandemic. 

Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) chairman Richard Hughes gave a stark warning yesterday that joblessness that worklessness was now a ‘worrying trend’ since the pandemic.

Speaking to the Treasury Select Committee, he said that economy was growing due to net migration but said that it was faltering because of ‘rising levels of inactivity’.

He said: ‘It looks as though persistently high levels of inactivity seem to be a feature of the post-pandemic environment and one which is worrying from the point of view of human welfare.’  

Asked if this was linked to long NHS waiting lists, he replied: ‘People out of the workforce for health reasons is now the single largest reason to be outside the workforce if you’re an adult as well as the fastest growing.

‘When we looked at it and compared it to people on the waiting list we didn’t find that much overlap actually.

‘Their reasons for being outside the labour force didn’t seem to be principally because they were also the people who were on the NHS waiting list.

‘It seemed to have multiple different causes depending on people’s age.

‘For older people it was often times because they had musculoskeletal conditions, for younger people it tends to be more mental health issues.

‘So we think there are more complex issues than just the waiting list.’

Director of economic statistics at the ONS Liz McKeown warned about under-25s shunning work despite a total of 908,000 vacancies being open, largely due to long-term sickness, The Telegraph reports.

The total number of people out of work due to being in full-time education hit a record high in January of 2.56million, a rise of 284,000 compared to the previous year.

Paul Dales, the chief UK economist at Capital Economics told The Telegraph that this means the workforce will be ‘more skilled, more talented, and more productive’ in the future.

But senior labour market economist at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), Jon Boys, told the paper that young people spending longer in education has had a slow burn effect on the workforce.

He said: ‘If we had the same employment rates for young people today as we did 30 years ago, we would have an extra million people in the workforce.’

A reversal of this trend could lead to every vacancy being filled across the UK. However, the high numbers of students out of work could also mean that young people are struggling to find work.

Gen Z workers have previously been urged to do the bare minimum work to avoid burnout, as thousands admitted to ‘quiet quitting‘ – a social media sensation which encourages staff to reject the idea of going ‘above and beyond’ at work, while still getting paid the same.

The change in attitude came after the shift in working behaviours due to the Covid pandemic. Millions were forced to work from home at the height of lockdown and many employees – including a number of civil servants – are still enjoying some level of flexibility or ‘hybrid-working’.

In that time, workers who may have previously been happy to put in extra hours when asked by bosses are now not doing so, seemingly inspired by a TikTok trend. 

The proportion of 16 to 34-year-olds in the category increased in the quarter to January, offsetting rises in activity among older age groups.

The bump also outweighed a sharp decline in the number of stay-at-home parents. 

The number of young people economically inactive due to ill health has doubled in 10 years

The number of young people economically inactive due to ill health has doubled in 10 years

The number of women saying they are out of the jobs market due to looking after families or households is now at the lowest on record, 1.342million. That is down from 2.9million in 1993. 

Overall, 9.25million Brits are now classed as economically inactive – up 100,000 on the previous quarter and equivalent to 21.8 per cent of the adult population.

Nearly 2.5million of those are long-term sick, compared to 2.17million just before Covid struck in 2020. 

The official figures came as separate analysis suggested 3.9million people are claiming means-tested benefits with no requirement to look for work.

The Office for National Statistics said economic inactivity had been driven recently by rises among the 16-34 band, while the rate for 35 to 64-year-olds had fallen.

‘The increase seen in economic inactivity in the latest quarter and on the year was mainly driven by those inactive because they were students and those inactive because they were retired,’ the watchdog said.

‘The quarterly increase was partially offset by falls in those looking after the family or home and those inactive for other reasons.

‘The number of those inactive because they were long-term sick fell on the quarter, but remains higher than estimates a year ago (November 2022 to January 2023).’

Work and Pensions Mel Stride insisted: 'Our plan for the economy is working'

Work and Pensions Mel Stride insisted: ‘Our plan for the economy is working’

The Office for National Statistics said economic inactivity had been driven recently by rises among the 16-34 band, while the rate for 35 to 64-year-olds had fallen

The Office for National Statistics said economic inactivity had been driven recently by rises among the 16-34 band, while the rate for 35 to 64-year-olds had fallen

Although the inactivity rate remains well above the immediate pre-pandemic level, it is marginally down from the peak of 22.1 per cent seen in Summer 2022.

A Government source argued that looking at the rolling three month total for inactivity – rather than comparing quarter on quarter as the ONS prefers – it was down 28,000. Excluding students inactivity was down 185,000 on the year, they added.

Work and Pensions Mel Stride said yesterday: ‘Our plan for the economy is working. Employment is up on the year, the number of people on payrolls is at a record high, and inactivity is falling.

‘But our work is not done. Our Back to Work Plan will help a million people to find, stay and succeed in employment.

‘With the next generation of welfare reforms, we’re reducing the number of people on the highest tier of incapacity benefits by 371,000 – people who will now receive support back into work.’

Post source: Daily mail

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