Global youth unemployment now 75 million

Nearly 75 million young people around the world are without jobs, the International Labour Organization reports, an increase of more than four million since 2007.
A young woman is pulled away from Madrid's Puerta del Sol plaza last week as police broke up protests against austerity and unemployment that has hit one out of every four citizens in Spain. (Alberto Di Lolli/Associated Press)

Nearly 75 million young people around the world are without jobs, an increase of more than four million since 2007, the International Labour Organization reports.

In a study released this week, the ILO says there is little to suggest the trend will improve over the next four years.

And many young people, it says, have given up looking for work or have decided to put their search off and stay in school.

If the global unemployment rate among youth — those aged 15 to 24 — were adjusted to account for the drop out induced by the economic crisis, the ILO says, it would rise from 12.6 to 13.6 per cent.

In contrast, the number of young people looking for work in central and southeastern Europe outside the European Union and in the former Soviet Union is higher than expected; something it suggests is partly poverty-driven.

The turmoil accompanying the Arab Spring last year has increased the youth unemployment in North Africa sharply, adding almost five percentage points between 2010 and 2011 to an already very high level of youth unemployment in this region.

The ILO says that unemployment had been on an annual decline among the young in the five years up to 2007, but the Great Recession over 2008 and 2009 effectively wiped out much of that gain.

Around the world, the ILO says, the percentage of the young who are taking temporary work, that which does not open up opportunities "to move to more permanent, higher-productivity and better-paid positions," has likely doubled since the economic crisis.

Young people who are in the NEET group — not in education, employment or training — and likely make up 10 per cent of the youth population, have become a serious concern for policy-makers, the ILO says, in particular in developed economies.

Canada is not immune from the global trend. A report by TD economist Francis Fong released in March suggested the economic recovery has been "almost non-existent" for young Canadians, who face challenging job prospects "for several more years," even as older workers have been flooding into the job market and getting work.