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COVID-19 hits youth employment hard

The International Labor Organization says the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the youth labor market. According to the ILO's just-released Global Employment Trends 2022 report, the employment prospects of 15- to 24-year-olds lag behind other age groups.

According to the latest data, the total number of unemployed young people is estimated to reach 73 million this year. This is a slight improvement from 2021 levels, but according to the ILO, the number of young people out of work is still 6 million above pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

ILO Deputy Director-General Martha Newton said the COVID-crisis has exposed shortcomings in the way young people's needs are addressed. Those unable to gain a foothold in the labor market, she said, include first-time job seekers, school dropouts, inexperienced fresh graduates, and those who remain inactive without choice.

“Following the arrival of the pandemic in 2020, the proportion of young people who are not employed, educated or trained (we call them NEETs) rose to 23.3%, the highest level. …we saw youth NEET rates jump to their highest level in 15 years,” Newton said.

The ILO says young people have faced multi-faceted crises throughout the pandemic. Interruptions in education and training have deprived them of the skills they need to get jobs, they said. It threatens to hurt their long-term employment, education and income prospects, he said.

Newton says job opportunities for many young people are narrowing. She adds that young women have a harder time finding jobs than young men. She predicts that 27.4% of the world's young women will likely be employed in 2022, according to ILO projections, compared to her 40.3% of young men.

"The impact of the pandemic has a feminine face. Our data also show that in many countries around the world women are not returning to the workforce at the same rate as men." "I know," Newton said. "This is partly tied to women's responsibility for care."

Youth unemployment in North America is projected to be below the global average level.The unemployment rate in Latin America this year is 20.5.

Africa's youth unemployment rate is 12.7%, but the report says this figure reflects the fact that many young people in Africa have chosen cover up.

The ILO lists the Arab countries as having the highest and fastest-growing youth unemployment rates in the world.The ILO says the situation for women is particularly bad. The unemployment rate for young women in the region is 42.5, almost three times the global average for young women.