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YOUNG workers are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, the TUC warned today, after new figures revealed more than half of people losing jobs were under 25.
Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed the number of young workers was down by 436,000 since January 2020, accounting for six in 10 of all employee jobs lost.
The figures showed a slight fall in the unemployment rate overall — from 5 per cent between September and November to 4.9 per cent in the latest quarter — but the number of workers on UK payrolls actually fell by 56,000 in March as lockdown restrictions continued to take their toll.
Overall, there were 813,000 fewer people on payrolls than in March 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Both the TUC and Labour called on ministers to do more to support young workers, including revamping the Kickstart scheme, which has created just 6,000 jobs since it was set up last year despite its £2 billion budget.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the data proved the need for urgent action to support people, despite the easing of some restrictions.
“Young workers are bearing the brunt of this pandemic,” she said.
“Many of them working in badly hit industries like retail, hospitality and the arts have lost their jobs and are at risk of long-term unemployment.
“Ministers must reboot the Kickstart scheme and create good new jobs in green transport, infrastructure and social care — and boost universal credit so that people who have lost their jobs are not plunged into poverty.”
Labour’s shadow secretary for work and pensions Jonathan Reynolds said: “Unemployment is persistently high, yet the government’s programmes to get people back into work are still not up and running.
“Those who have lost their jobs deserve so much better: Labour’s jobs promise would guarantee young people out of work for six months a training or job placement and make sure no-one is left out of work for more than a year.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Protecting jobs and the economy has been my focus since this pandemic began. Through the furlough scheme alone we have protected 11.2 million jobs.
“I will continue to put people at the heart of the government’s response through our Plan for Jobs, supporting and creating jobs across the country.”
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