Dole queue for young would go from London to Edinburgh, research shows

Dole Queue

Calculations made as MPs prepare to launch new cross-party group dealing with youth unemployment

The UK's young unemployed could form a dole queue that stretches from London to Edinburgh, new research by MPs and the House of Commons library has calculated.

As MPs prepare to launch a new cross-party group dealing with youth unemployment, the figures suggest that out-of-work 16- to 24-year-olds could stand in a line that stretches 434 miles.

This is the distance between London and Edinburgh or equivalent to the population of a city the size of Leeds, if you give each young person 2.5 feet to stand in.

The figures were worked out for the new all-party parliamentary group on youth unemployment, which is being launched by Pamela Nash, the 29-year-old youngest MP in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Other members of the group include Tory MPs Zac Goldsmith and Laura Sandys, Lib Dems Julian Huppert and John Leech, and the former Labour home secretary, Lord Reid of Cardowan.

Nash, the Labour MP for Aidrie and Shotts, said the level of youth unemployment was a "national disgrace". About 917,000 young people in the UK are classified as unemployed, of whom around half are claiming jobseeker's allowance.

"When you consider that if all the unemployed young people in the UK stood up in a straight line they'd easily reach from London to Edinburgh; then you'd be as shocked as I was to discover that there was not a single cross-party group in Westminster or Holyrood looking at tackling this issue," she said.

"I want to ensure that the issue of youth unemployment remains a top priority for both governments, and for all politicians in Edinburgh and London."

Youth unemployment dropped slightly in the past three months of 2013, but the rate still remains stubbornly high at 19.9% of 16- to 24-year-olds.

According to the Office for National Statistics, young people in the UK appear to have borne the brunt of the financial crisis, with a larger proportion them now out of work than any other age group.

The unemployment rate among 16- to 17-year-olds is 35.9%, and 18% among 18- to 24-year-olds, according to the latest economic review by the statistics watchdog.

In contrast, the rate falls to 4.7% among 35- to 49-year-olds, and 4.4% among 50- to 64-year-olds. Those aged between 18 and 24 accounted for almost 30% of the rise in the unemployment rate between the first quarter of 2008 and the peak in unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2011, roughly double their proportion of the labour force.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Tuesday 4th March 2014 18.00 Europe/London

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