Coronavirus: 50pc more youth on unemployment benefit, more job losses predicted
Between February and April 2020, the number of 18- and 19-year-olds receiving the Job Seeker Work Ready benefit increased by 46 per cent to 10,131, data from the Ministry of Social Development showed.
An even greater increase, of 62 per cent, was seen among 20- to 24-year-olds, with 24,287 people in that age group accessing the support programme.
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"Young people who have come out of university with qualifications are not going to be as badly hit as young people who are going to be coming directly from school to work."
Māori, Pasifika and migrant young people are more likely to work in industries which have been the hardest hit, such as retail, hospitality and tourism.
Johnson warned another "wave" of job losses would likely sweep through once the wage subsidy dried up.
She hoped the Government would consider providing additional funding for businesses that offered young people jobs or training opportunities.
The good news was it was now an excellent time for young people to upskill or study, she said.
An independent survey conducted on behalf of New Zealand's largest online hospitality job search platform Barcats found 46 per cent of a sample of 123 people employed in the industry had lost their jobs due to Covid-19.
The crisis appeared to have taken the greatest toll on younger workers, with 78 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 24 reporting suffering from coronavirus-related anxiety and stress.
Their most commonly cited worry was being unable to find another job in the near future.
Research commissioned by the organisation before the lockdown showed nearly a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds in the industry were unemployed and just 28 per cent had full-time work. About half, 48 per cent, were on part-time contracts.
Independent economist Shamubeel Eaqub had no doubt more young people would lose jobs in the coming months.
"There’s always more unemployment among young people because they’re looking for work but they may not have experience in industries that are very competitive," he said.
Data from past recessions showed the unemployment rate for 15- to 24-year-olds rose from about 9 to 15 per cent compared with an increase from 3.5 to 6.5 per cent for the general population.
He agreed with Johnson that now was an ideal time for young people to enrol in further training or study.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson's office has not yet responded to questions from Stuff about whether the Government has considered providing businesses which keep young staff employed with financial incentives, as suggested by Johnson.