Rising Youth Unemployment During the Crisis. How to Prevent Negative Long-term Consequences on a Generation?

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The global economic crisis has hit youth very hard. In the OECD area, the youth (15-24) unemployment rate rose by 6 percentage points in the two years to the end of 2009, to reach almost 19%. There are currently nearly 15 million youth unemployed in the OECD area, about four million more than at the end of 2007. And in countries like France and Italy, about one active youth in four is unemployed, while in Spain more than 40% of them are jobless. An economic recovery is already ongoing in a number of OECD countries, but the short-term prospects for youth unemployment in the OECD countries remain rather gloomy. The recovery is expected to be rather shallow in 2010 and to strengthen only in 2011. And given the large spare capacity accumulated by many firms during the recession, job creation is likely to lag significantly behind this modest recovery. In this context, the youth unemployment rate is expected to stay at a high level over the next two years and many unemployed youth are likely to experience a prolonged period of joblessness. Coping with a job loss in a weak labour market - when job offers are scarce and competition among jobseekers is fierce - is difficult for anyone. But for disadvantaged youth lacking basic education, failure to find a first job or keep it for long can have negative long-term consequences on their career prospects that some experts refer to as “scarring”. Beyond the negative effects on future wages and employability, long spells of unemployment while young often create permanent scars through the harmful effects on a number of other outcomes, including happiness, job satisfaction and health, many years later.


Anne Sonnet, Stefano Scarpetta, Thomas Manfredi

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