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Rates of youths not earning or learning converge

Rates of young men and women not earning or learning converge

2 May 2018

One in eight young people aged under 25 is not earning or learning, Stats NZ said today.

The seasonally adjusted rate of young people aged 15–24 years who were not in employment, education, or training (NEET) rose to 12.4 percent in the March 2018 quarter, up from 11.8 percent in the December 2017 quarter. The NEET rate was 12.7 percent a year ago.

“Education and skills training for young adults are critical steps to help set them up for working life. The NEET rate is important because it shows decision-makers how many young people may be being left behind on the path to a better job and a better life,” labour market manager Sean Broughton said.

The latest data reflects a fall in the NEET rate for women (to 12.8 percent), which was partly offset by a rise for men (to 12.1 percent). In comparison, a year ago the NEET rates for women and men were 13.8 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively.

“Since the series began in 2004, the proportion of young women not earning or learning has been higher than that for young men. This gender gap has now almost disappeared – the NEET rates for women and men are the closest they’ve ever been,” Mr Broughton said.

The NEET rate covers 15–24-year-olds, but can be further broken down to examine teenagers and people in their early twenties separately.

Since 2004, the NEET rate for women aged 20–24 years has been consistently higher than that for men of the same age. This difference has diminished over time, and is now at its lowest point – 3.9 percentage points, compared with a peak of 14.5 percentage points in March 2005. There is little difference in the NEET rates for men and women aged 15–19 years.

Over the last decade, the number of women aged 20–24 years who were not in the labour force or education because of caregiving has fallen from 20,000 to 11,000.

The seasonally adjusted number of NEET women was 41,000 in the March 2018 quarter, down from 45,000 a year ago. In contrast, the number of NEET men increased to 42,000 (from 41,000). This is the first time the number of NEET men has exceeded the number of women.

The decrease in the number of NEET people in the year to the March 2018 quarter coincided with a 16,000 increase in the number of young people who were employed and not in education. This group included 15,000 young women, 10,000 of them aged 20–24 years. Two-thirds of this increase was from young women employed as community and personal service workers, mostly in hospitality.


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