New figures show more young women are economically inactive

Wednesday 13 December 2017

New figures show more young women are economically inactive 

YWTData released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that:

  • the number of people aged 16-24 who are economically inactive (not working or currently looking for work) and not in education or training has increased by 26,000 on the last quarter;
  • since May-July 2017, there are now 16,000 more young women who are economically inactive and 10,000 more young men; and
  • basic pay rose by 2.3 per cent (excluding bonuses) – less than the 3 per cent inflation rate, meaning people are getting a pay cut before Christmas.

Commenting, Young Women’s Trust’s chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“26,000 more young people are now economically inactive and out of education – a dramatic increase on the last quarter. 

“Young women in particular are telling us they want to work but hundreds of thousands are getting shut out of the jobs market, including by a lack of convenient childcare and support. While the Government focuses on reducing its unemployment figures, 346,000 young women who are not included in the numbers are being left jobless and forgotten. 

“At the same time, we have a youth debt epidemic, which is only set to worsen as prices rise and wages remain low. It can be particularly hard for young mums, especially at Christmas; in many cases, an hour’s childcare can cost more than an hour’s wages. It’s time for action. 

“Much more needs to be done to improve young people’s prospects. This means giving them the right skills and support to find jobs, ensuring decent and flexible jobs are available, and extended the National Living Wage to under-25s, so they are paid the same amount for the same work. This will not only help them to become financially independent but will benefit businesses and the economy too.” 


Notes to editor: 

  1. The Office for National Statistics today published average weekly earnings data and labour market data for the period from August to October 2017: .
  2. The data shows that basic pay rose by 2.3 per cent (excluding bonuses). Inflation in September and October was 3 per cent and yesterday’s figures show it hit 3.1 per cent in November. This means that, in real terms, people’s pay is falling.
  3. The number of women aged 16-24 who are economically inactive and not in full-time education is 346,000, compared to 286,000 young men – a difference of 60,000.
  4. The overall number of young people who are economically inactive and not in full-time education has risen by 26,000 on the last quarter.
  5. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  6. Young Women’s Trust commissioned Populus Data Solutions to conduct a survey of young people. A representative sample of 4,010 18-30 year-olds in England and Wales, from the Populus Live Online Panel, were surveyed between 4 and 14 July 2017. The survey found that:
    1. one in six young people (17 per cent) have been paid less than the legal minimum wage;
    2. a third of young people (30 per cent) have been offered a zero hours contract;
    3. more than half (53 per cent) are worried about how much their job pays;
    4. one in ten (11 per cent) skip meals in order to make their cash last to the end of the month;
    5. nearly half (45 per cent) are living with their parents; and
    6. a quarter (25 per cent) are in constant debt and just 39 per cent of young people think they will be debt-free by the time they are forty – they think it is just as likely that scientists will have found life on other planets (37 per cent).
    7. Young mothers in particular are facing financial hardships. Young Women’s Trust’s report, ‘What matters to young mums?’ (23 March 2017) found that:
      1. 27 per cent were currently using food banks or had used them in the past;
      2. 46 per cent regularly missed meals in order to provide for their children
      3. 61 per cent were “only just managing financially”;
      4. when asked about the financial situation in their household on a scale of one to five, with five being “extremely worried”, 23 per cent gave a ranking of four and 11 per cent gave a ranking of five; and
      5. one in four had left a job because they couldn’t afford childcare.

For more information or to speak to a young woman who is affected, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or