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YOUNG workers are bearing the brunt of job losses during the pandemic, the TUC warned today, as it urged the government to immediately extend financial support.
Official statistics also revealed that jobless rates among black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) people are now double the rate for white people.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the UK’s unemployment rate hit 5.1 per cent between October and December — its highest level since early 2016.
There are now 726,000 fewer people in work than before the first national lockdown in March 2020, with nearly 60 per cent of that drop – 425,000 – accounted for by workers aged under 25.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Young workers are bearing the brunt of this jobs crisis.
“We cannot afford for another generation to be scarred by mass unemployment.
“The current uncertainty is creating needless anxiety and making it hard for businesses and working families to plan for the future.”
Ms O’Grady called on the government to “stop dragging its heels” and announce an immediate extension to the furlough scheme, which is currently due to end in April despite lockdown restrictions continuing until at least early summer.
The TUC also called for a “revamp” to the government’s failing Kickstart scheme, which is supposed to provide funding to employers to create job placements for young people.
Scotland’s employment rate was down by 0.3 per cent on the previous quarter, with the number of people aged 25 and under in work falling by over 10 per cent in the past year.
STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “We need an immediate extension to the furlough scheme and the self-employment support scheme.
“This must be accompanied by more investment in creating real and sustainable jobs for young workers.”
ONS data showed that the unemployment rate for BAME people has risen to 9.5 per cent, much higher than the 4.5 per cent rate for white people.
Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova demanded that Chancellor Rishi Sunak publish a full impact assessment of next week’s Budget to ensure that existing inequalities do not widen.
“These figures are further evidence of the unequal economic impact of the pandemic,” she said.
“The government cannot continue to deny the existence of structural racism and the Chancellor must take action.
“The failing Kickstart scheme has unequal consequences for [BAME] people, who are more likely to be unemployed and living in poverty.”
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the figures revealed the full scale of “Rishi Sunak’s jobs crisis.”
“We’re already in the worst economic crisis of any major economy,” she said.
“The Chancellor should learn from the mistakes he made last year when his last-minute extension to the furlough scheme came too late to prevent record redundancies.”
Mr Sunak said the extent of goverment support provided will be confirmed during the Budget on March 3.
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