Credit where credit is due: there were 90,000 fewer 18-24 year olds not in full-time education and either unemployed or inactive during August and October compared to the previous quarter.
Part of the fall is due to 14,000 fewer young people aged 18-24.
In addition, an extra 20,000 18-24 year olds are in full-time education or 32% of the age group.
But the striking feature of the figures is that there were 55,000 more 18-24 year olds classed as ‘employed’ and outside of full-time education.
This again appears good news yet it should be remembered that the term ‘employed’ also includes those on government supported training and employment programmes (GSTEP) such as the Work Programme.
Around 30% of people aged 16 and over on GSTEPs are aged 16-24. Last quarter the number of 16 year olds and over increased by 19,000. A rough estimate, therefore, is that 5,000 were 18-24 year olds.
At the same time, there are also 53,000 16-24 year olds who are employees or self-employed and on GSTEPs such as the Youth Contract and the Work Programme. Around 65% are aged 16-24. They already feature in the estimates for employees and the self-employed aged 18-24. Yet, there is no way of telling from the published figures what has happened between August and October this year.
A safe estimate, therefore, is that 50,000 more 18-24 year olds were in jobs outside of training schemes and full-time education.
There were also 25,000 more 18-24 year olds in full-time education or government training schemes.
According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, unemployment is set to rise in 2013 and 2104.
The question for the Coalition is that, if the growth in jobs for 18-24 year olds is a temporary blip will it seek to tackle unemployment and inactivity through full-time education or training schemes?
Mark Corney is policy adviser to CfL. He writes in a personal capacity.