Young people likely to be hardest hit by Brexit - CBI

Nigel Smyth
Nigel Smyth

Young people hit by the last recession could be the first to suffer again if a Brexit vote is successful, according to the CBI and ManpowerGroup.

Following the last recession, the employment rate for 22 to 30-year-olds fell by 4%, while remaining unchanged for 31 to 59-year-olds and the same age group saw real pay fall three times as much compared with over 30s, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Now the UK’s premier business group and ManpowerGroup, a leading global recruitment firm, are warning that in the event of another serious economic downturn young people will likely be hardest hit again.

The economic consensus is that a Brexit would create a significant economic shock in the short-term, with the OECD predicting 3% less GDP growth by 2020.

Both the International Monetary Fund and IFS echo these concerns. And the Treasury’s own analysis says there could be a ‘profound shock’ to our economy that would push it ‘into a recession’ if the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

Youth unemployment in Northern Ireland is currently 17.2% according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, demonstrating the challenge faced by the region’s young people in the event of Brexit.

“It’s abundantly clear that if leaving the EU triggers another recession those leaving school and university in the coming years will bear the brunt of job losses and lower wages,” said Nigel Smyth, CBI Northern Ireland Director.

“We know the majority of small, medium and large firms want to remain in the EU because it helps their businesses to grow and their staff become more prosperous.

“While it can be tedious and time-consuming to wade through the claims made by both sides of the debate, it’s undeniable that the youngest were hit hardest in the last recession – and will be again if the economic shock predicted by most credible forecasters becomes a reality by leaving the EU.”

Mark Cahill, MD of the ManpowerGroup said:

“Young jobseekers are facing one of the toughest markets in recent times as hiring slows in the face of concerns over the impact of the national living wage and the forthcoming referendum.