Youth unemployment sailed past the million mark last month with much furore, prompting the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to wade into the numerical waters. FactCheck takes a look at the   findings.

Firstly, it has been worse in recent years, the ONS said. Today, 10 per cent of young people (excluding students) are out of work. Yet the aftermath of the last two recessions saw higher levels of youth unemployment: 12 per cent in 1993 and 14 per cent in 1984 (unemployment traditionally lags recessions).

The rising number of students since the 1990s has pushed up unemployment numbers hugely – as they look for work to help pay their way through university. Today 30 per cent of the 1.04m unemployed 16-24 year olds are students. In 1992 it was just 9.2 per cent.

Better qualified and older ‘young’ people are more likely to find employment than those with few qualifications to their names, the ONS found. Around 26 per cent of 16 year olds who left school with one GCSE are currently unemployed, and for 18 year olds with one GCSE the figure sits at 27 per cent.

Eighteen year olds who left school with an A-level are faring better, with 20 per cent unemployed; and that falls to 7 per cent for 24 year olds with an A-level.

For 24 year olds with a degree, the picture is rosier – with unemployment down to 5 per cent. Those fresh out of university aged 21 however are facing a tougher market, with 25 per cent currently out of work.

The highest unemployment rate in June 2011 was in London at 24 per cent, and the lowest in the South West at 15 per cent.

By Emma Thelwell

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