The number of unemployed 15- to 24-year-olds in the world is set to swell by half a million this year to 71m, according to forecasts from the International Labour Organisation, the UN agency. As a result, the youth jobless rate will edge up from 12.9 per cent in 2015 to 13.1 per cent, close to its peak of 13.2 per cent in 2013.
Many young people have struggled to find a secure foothold in the labour market since the financial crisis, leaving them particularly exposed to the ups and downs of the slow and uneven global recovery.
The ILO blamed the deep recessions in emerging economies such as Russia and Brazil that have been hit by falls in commodity prices. It predicted that youth unemployment in middle-income emerging countries as a whole would increase from 13.3 to 13.7 per cent this year, with Latin America the worst-hit region.
That would more than offset an improvement in rich countries from 15 to 14.5 per cent, driven by Europe’s gradual economic recovery. The rate in poorer countries will inch up from 9.4 to 9.5 per cent.
Young people are also more likely to be stuck in jobs that are too badly paid or insecure to lift them out of poverty, the ILO said.
In total, almost 38 per cent of working young people in the world are in poverty, compared with about a quarter of all working adults. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest working poverty rate for young people at almost 70 per cent, but it is also high in Arab states (39 per cent) and southern Asia (49 per cent).
The ILO said the persistent lack of decent jobs in many regions was also one of the drivers of international migration among young people. Its figures show that a fifth of the global youth population was willing to move permanently to another country last year.
The figures were highest in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America at 38 per cent, followed by eastern Europe at 37 per cent. At the other end of the scale, young people in southern Asia and North America were the most reluctant to migrate.