Today’s news on young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) provides further encouraging news on the improvement of labour market conditions. The overall number of NEETs in the UK has now fallen below a million. The (seasonally adjusted) fall of 61000 in the most recent quarter follows a fall of 37000 in the last quarter of last year; the unadjusted fall in the most recent quarter is 94000, this figure being boosted by the large numbers of young people who leave education after the summer period. The bulk of this fall in NEETs (some 53000 in England alone) is observed amongst 18-24 year old males.
The data also confirm some broader regional patterns that are emerging from the wider range of labour market data. In the North East, the numbers of NEETs increased in the last quarter, bucking the trend observed elsewhere in the country. In some other regions that appear also to be struggling to secure the benefits of the recovery, such as the East and West Midlands, and also the East of England, the fall in the number of NEETs is small. Other regions, including London, the South West, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside observed relatively large falls in NEETs – very welcome news. The fall in Yorkshire and Humberside is particularly noteworthy, not least because this region contains some of the localities in which the NEET rate has been highest amongst young people – the latest available sub-regional data indicate that Barnsley, Wakefield, Bradford and Hull all had rates above 20% (Image 1). The Work Foundation’s map of NEET (Image 2) incidence shows quite starkly how varied experience is across geographies, this no doubt reflecting how the recovery more generally is impacting differentially across industries and across space.
‘Squeezed middle’ is a phrase used in various contexts – but the emerging evidence on the regional impact of the recovery seems to suggest that it is quite an apt description of the geography of current economic experience, albeit with a squeeze also in the North East.
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