Compared to adults, young people are consistently disadvantaged in the labor market. Youth unemployment rates tend to be much higher than those for adults (25+ age group).
In Asia and the Pacific, 13.8% of young people were unemployed in 2019, compared to 3% of adults.
Many young people in the region cannot afford to be unemployed. Youth labor force participation in the region is higher than in other parts of the world. A majority of young people are locked into informal jobs, working in precarious conditions, in poor conditions and for low wages.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 84% of young people in the region, compared to 69% of adults, did not have access to social protection. The data is important since the region is home to around 55% of the world’s youth.
In addition, extreme or moderate working poverty, that is, living on less than $3.20 a day, affected one in four young workers, a rate significantly higher than the 18% for adults.
In addition, rates of young people not earning or learning have remained consistently high. In 2019, there were more than 160 million young people, around a quarter of the region’s youth population, not in employment, education or training (NEET) and this rate has been increasing since 2012.
In South Asia, the NEET rate was the highest, at 30%. This is obviously a big concern for India since it is the largest and most populous country in South Asia.
The AfDB and ILO had stated in their 2020 report that for some young people, age combines with other vulnerabilities – including gender, sexual orientation, disability, migrant status and remote or rural – to aggravate disadvantages.
For example, young women make up almost three-quarters of NEETs in Asia and the Pacific, with many having responsibilities at home for care and/or subsistence production work.