The number of people who have never worked has increased over the past two decades, a new study by the Resolution Foundation think tank suggests.
The study suggests 8.2% of people aged 16-64 – some 3.4 million people in total – had never had a paid job, despite a spike in employment.
That is a 52% increase since 1998 when 5.4% had never worked, the report says.
Laura Gardiner, from the think tank, said the rise was partly driven by “the death of the teenage Saturday job”.
Both household worklessness and economic inactivity are at record lows, the study said.
Meanwhile, out-of-work benefits have become less generous in recent decades, it added.
“Lazy interpretations related to workshy Brits are very far wide of the mark,” the report said.
“Instead, the rise in the proportion of working-age adults who have never had a paid job is above all a story about the complex choices many young people are facing in trying to get the most out of their education.”
It said that the number of 16 and 17-year-olds in employment had roughly halved in the last two decades.
Just a quarter of people in that age bracket were in work between 2017 and 2019, the report found.
“More and more of us are now working, with employment hitting record highs and worklessness hitting record lows, but despite this, around one in 12 working-age adults have never worked a day in their lives – a 50% increase since the late 1990s,” said Ms Gardiner, research director at the Resolution Foundation.
“The rising number of people who have never had a paid job has been driven by the death of the teenage Saturday job and a wider turn away from earning while learning.”
People are also taking longer to find a job after leaving full-time education, the report found.
“With young people today expected to end their working lives at a later age than previous generations, it’s understandable that they want to start their working lives at a later age too,” Ms Gardiner added.
“But this lack of work experience can create longer-term problems, particularly if they hit other life milestones like motherhood or ill-health before their careers have got off the ground.”
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