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Graduates in the Labour Market, 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 26 January 2011 Download PDF

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Graduates in the labour market

Unemployment rate doubles for new graduates over recent recession

Since the onset of the most recent recession, the unemployment rate for new graduates was 20% in the third quarter of 2010.

This was the highest unemployment rate for new graduates in over a decade with almost 1 in 5 recent graduates, who were economically active, looking and available for work but unable to find any. This was almost double the rate before the start of the recession, which stood at 10.6% and unemployment for around 1 in 10 recent graduates.

Also:

  • At the start of the recession the unemployment rate for new graduates was around twice that of the UK as a whole (10.6% compared to 5.2%)

  • Unemployment increased faster for new graduates compared to the UK as a whole. By the end of the recession the rate for new graduates was 2.3 times higher (18.5% compared to 7.9%).

Graduate unemployment rates by number of years since graduation, UK, seasonally adjusted

This is a graph showing graduate unemployment rates in the UK by the number of years since graduation
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Duration since graduation impacts on unemployment

Looking at those who graduated two to four, and four to six years ago, the unemployment rate also rose, but not as fast as for recent graduates. This may reflect the fact that the majority of these were already in a job, while recent graduates were just entering the job market. Both these groups have lower unemployment rates than the UK as a whole.

Lower unemployment rates for young graduates

For young people aged 21 to 24 who have left education, having a degree means unemployment is less likely than those without a degree. In the third quarter of 2010 the unemployment rate for those aged 21 to 24 with a degree was 11.6%, compared with 14.6% for those without a degree.

However, over the recent recession the unemployment rate increased more for those with a degree with:

  • Unemployment rates for graduates aged 21-24 increasing by 6.3 percentage points (7.2% to 13.4%).

  • Unemployment rates for non-graduates aged 21-24 increasing by 5.3 percentage points (10.7% to 16.0%).

Unemployment rates by age and qualification, UK, seasonally adjusted

This is a graph showing unemployment rates in the UK by age and qualification
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Historically high unemployment for 16 to 17 year olds

Unemployment rates for younger people not in education are consistently high. Quarter three 2010 saw the highest unemployment rates for 16 to 17 year olds since comparable records began in 1992:

  • 44.3% of economically active 16-17 year olds who were out of school were unable to find a job.

  • 27.0% of economically active 18-20 year olds who were out of school were unable to find a job. 

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Background information

Email labour.market@ons.gov.uk

Notes:

a) The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population in that category. The economically active population is defined as those in employment plus those who are unemployed.

b) The length of time since graduation is calculated by subtracting the age an individual left full-time education from their actual age.

c) A graduate is defined as an individual who has completed the first stage of tertiary education.

d) Analysis based only on those individuals who report being “not enrolled on course”. This analysis, therefore, excludes people who are both in education and in employment.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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