Young adults were hardest hit by job losses in 2020 according to new research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). This was partly because they are more likely to work in sectors like hospitality, arts and leisure, which were most impacted by Covid-19 public health measures.
The report also found that the negative effects of high and sustained youth unemployment persist in later life.
It adds that Covid-related patterns of job losses are likely to compound the lingering effects of the 2008-2011 financial crash, which left many more 20 to 24 year olds out of work, education or training on the eve of the pandemic.
The report says a growing share of young adults are facing high housing costs, while home ownership rates for young adults have collapsed, leaving them more exposed to rapidly-rising rents.
The researchers said the combined effect of these developments is “to cast a pall” over the prospects of young adults.
The research, funded by the Community Foundation for Ireland, also found low rates of employment to be closely related to the risk of poverty and deprivation in other working-age households.
Despite making up only 11% of the population in 2019, those aged under 65 living in a household without anyone in paid work made up more than half of those below the poverty line, and a third of those living in material deprivation.
ESRI economist Barra Roantree, who described the findings as “a cause of serious concern,” said the greatest labour market impact of the pandemic is being felt by younger workers, even though the most serious medical impacts have been on older people.
"To minimise the potential scarring effect on young adults, policymakers should ramp up capacity on high-quality training programmes in the months ahead. Policies that act to tackle the root causes of high rents will also disproportionately benefit younger adults who risk otherwise being left behind," he said.
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