Socialist Worker

Young people hit hard across the world by the recession

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2215

A new report shows the recession is hurting young people across the globe more than any other group.

The International Labour Organisation survey says that the global youth unemployment rate has risen from 11.9 percent in 2007 to

13 percent in 2009. Around 81 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed, out of a global workforce of 620 million.

The report also estimates that 152 million young people work but remain in extreme poverty in households living on less than $1.25 (80p) a day in 2008.

The crisis is particularly affecting young people in Spain, where the unemployment rate is 41 percent, and Greece, where the rate is 33 percent.

Katerina Patrikiou works at a construction company in Athens, which is closing down at the end of the year. She said, “To find a job in Greece is a very difficult matter. There are no jobs and most companies are closing or firing employees.

“The average salary for a new worker is just 700 euros (£576) a month. Things are getting worse.”

The cuts being rammed through by the Greek government are driving the recession deeper. Figures last week showed the country’s production fell by 3.5 percent compared to a year ago.

Firms are exploiting the situation to employ young workers on worse pay and conditions.

Eleni Bouboura, an unemployed worker in Athens, said, “Bosses are employing young people on 350 euros (£288) a month for three months. No one can live on that.

Ireland is another country hit by the economic turmoil, with around 430,000 people unemployed.

“Many young people are leaving the country, there are no jobs here,” said Karl Gill, a 20-year old living in Dublin. “People got degrees to help them get jobs in the big industries that grew up during the so-called boom—construction, engineering, architecture and accountancy.

“But those jobs don’t exist any more so people are traveling abroad to get any job they can. People haven’t emigrated from the country in such large numbers for many years.

“The government has also cut unemployment benefits for under 21s and this is also means tested if you’re living with relations. It all makes it very hard to live.”


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