Calendar year 2019

NEET age 16 to 24

Headline facts and figures - 2019

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About these statistics

These statistics are based on quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) data. They provide estimates of young people: not in education, employment or training (NEET) and not in education or training (NET). 

The NEET and NET rates both capture young people who are not in education or training. However, NEET also captures those young people not in employment. Employment has a larger impact on NEET rates for those post compulsory education age (18+) as many are active in the labour market.

The statistics cover 16-24 year olds in England, together with other age breakdowns within that bracket e.g. 16/17 and 18-24 year olds. Estimates are based on academic age, defined as ‘age at the start of the academic year’ i.e. age as at 31 August. They also include some breakdowns by:

  • gender
  • labour market status
  • region

These statistics should be used to see latest trends in NEET rates for 16-24 year olds. Trends are assessed by comparing the latest quarter’s data with the same period in an earlier year to account for seasonal effects.

Data is provided up to and including October to December 2019. 

As quarter four (October to December) 2019 is the latest data available and the first full quarter of the 2019/20 academic year, commentary in this release focuses mainly on this quarter. 

See 'Other NEET sources' section for further information on related statistics on:


We would welcome feedback on any aspect of this publication at

Not in education, employment or training (NEET) rates by age

Between October to December 2018 and 2019, the proportion NEET remained stable for the overall 16-24 and 18-24 age groups but increased slightly for 16/17 year olds.

The proportion NEET varies by age:

  • since 2013, those aged 16 and 17 are required to remain in education or training (under Raising Participation Age (RPA) legislation) and therefore have a lower NEET rate of 4.5%. The 16/17 NEET rate has fallen by over a half compared with October to December 2005, the series peak.
  • compared with 16/17 year olds those aged 18-24, who won’t be subject to RPA, have a NEET rate almost three times higher at 13.0%. Many of this group are no longer in education and are instead in the labour market. Consequently, those not in employment contribute to a higher NEET rate.

NEET rates for the older age groups increased both during and immediately after the most recent recession. During a recession, less economic activity takes place and so there are fewer jobs available and more redundancies, increasing the number NEET. Both the latest 16-24 and 18-24 NEET rates have fallen by almost a third compared with October to December 2011, the series peak following the recession.

NEET rate by age, England, October to December 2017-2019

 Academic age (age as at 31st August)Oct to Dec 2017Oct to Dec 2018Oct to Dec 201995% confidence interval for Oct to Dec 2019[1] (percentage points)Annual change from Oct-Dec 2018 to 2019 (percentage points)
Ages 16/173.6%4.2%4.5%+/- 1.1pp0.3pp
Ages 16-186.2%7.0%7.5%+/- 1.1pp0.5pp
  Age 162.7%4.8%4.3%+/- 1.5pp-0.4pp
  Age 174.5%3.6%4.7%+/- 1.6pp1.1pp
  Age 1811.1%12.5%13.1%+/- 2.6pp0.7pp
Ages 18-2412.9%13.1%13.0%+/- 1.0pp-0.1pp
Ages 19-2413.2%13.2%13.0%+/- 1.1pp-0.2pp
Ages 16-2411.0%11.3%11.3%+/- 0.8pp0.0pp

[1] For sample-based data, which estimate the true population value rather than giving an exact measure, confidence intervals give an indication of how precise the estimates are. If confidence intervals are at the 95% level, like in these instances, we can be 95% sure that the true value of the population lies within the ranges specified. It should be noted that sample sizes in the Labour Force Survey are small for individual age cohorts so these estimates are subject to higher margins of error. Caution should be taken when interpreting changes over the short term, particularly for individual age cohorts. 

Not in education or training (NET) rates by age

Between October to December 2018 and 2019, the proportion NET remained stable for the overall 16-24 and 18-24 age groups but increased for 16/17 year olds.

The proportion NET:

  • for 16/17 year olds has fallen by nearly two thirds since October to December 2001, the series peak.
  • for the older age group (18-24) has stayed fairly stable since the series began. 
  • for the overall 16-24 age group has remained stable since the series began.

Reasons NEET (overall age 16-24)

The labour market status of young people NEET has changed over time.

Latest figures show the majority, every 3 in 5, of those young people NEET are economically inactive.

The unemployment rate increased for 16-24 year olds in the years following the 2008/2009 recession, peaking in 2011. The proportion unemployed has since fallen driven largely by a decline in those unemployed for more than 6 months.

Since 2014, more young people are NEET due to economic inactivity than due to being unemployed. The main reason for inactivity being long term or temporarily sick has increased since 2011.

The following analysis uses Annual Population Survey (APS) data from 2012 to 2018.

NEET rates differ slightly using the APS and LFS (APS NEET rate in 2018 for 16-24 year olds was 12.2%, compared with an 11.8% average of all quarters in the LFS in 2018). Due to larger sample sizes in the APS we use this data when looking at specific groups in the population.

Although the proportion of the overall 16-24 population with a health condition has remained relatively stable in recent years, there is an increasing proportion of those 16-24 NEET reporting a health condition.

In 2018 those NEET were almost twice as likely to have a health problem than the overall 16-24 population (40.0% and 21.1% respectively).

Looking specifically at mental health conditions, the proportion of the 16-24 NEET population with such a condition has almost doubled from 11.7% in 2012 to 23.9% in 2018. The conditions looked at include depression, bad nerves, anxiety, severe or specific learning difficulties (mental handicap), mental illness, or suffering from phobia, panics or other nervous disorders.

Despite the overall 16-24 NEET rate having fallen, the proportion of the 16-24 population NEET with mental health conditions has increased as shown in figure 5.

NEET rate by gender (overall age 16-24)

In October to December 2019 the NEET gender gap has once again closed since widening in October to December 2018.

The main reason for females being NEET is different to males as shown in figure 7. Although the proportions have fallen in the last 10 years, in October to December 2019:

  • females are still more likely to be NEET due to looking after family/home than males (3.7% compared with 0.3%)
  • a higher proportion of males are unemployed than females (6.4% compared with 3.0%).

For both males (highest October to December 2017) and females (highest October to December 2019) the proportion NEET due to being long-term or temporarily sick has increased over the last 10 years.

NEET rate by region (overall age 16-24)

It should be noted that regional estimates have larger error margins due to smaller sample sizes, resulting in wider confidence intervals of between +/-1.9 percentage points in the South East and +/-4.0 percentage points in the North East. This means caution should be taken when interpreting the figures.

There are notable differences in the NEET rates across the country as shown in Figure 8.

For 16-24 year olds in October to December 2019:

  • The North East had the highest NEET rate and has had the highest October to December rate since 2014.
  • The South East and South West had the lowest NEET rates and have had the lowest October to December rates for the last five years.

Seasonal effects

NEET rates exhibit seasonal patterns that tend to reflect the academic year: typically there are lower rates in autumn (October to December) followed by a gradual rise in spring and early summer (January to June) with a peak in late summer (July to September). 

Figure 9 shows the quarterly NEET estimates for the past ten years and demonstrates these seasonal effects.

Other NEET sources

Users should be aware that figures for young people who are NEET and NET are published in other statistics releases. The table below provides a summary of the four related releases and gives information on their content.

TitleParticipation in education, training and employmentNEET statistics annual brief Young people NEETLocal authority NEET and participation
ProducerDepartment for EducationDepartment for EducationOffice for National StatisticsDepartment for Education
StatusNational StatisticNational StatisticNational StatisticTransparency data
Age range16-1816-2416-2416-17
Age typeAcademic age[1]Academic age[1]Actual ageAcademic age[1]
Regional breakdownsNoYesNoYes
LA breakdownNoNoNoYes
Data typeMostly administrativeSurveySurveyManagement information
Frequency of publicationAnnuallyAnnuallyQuarterlyAnnually
Seasonally adjustedNoNoYesNo
When to use?[2]England NEET (and participation) figures, age 16-18England/regional NEET figures, age 16-24 (includes reasons NEET) UK NEET figures, age 16-24 (published quarterly so often most timely)LA/regional NEET (and participation) figures, age 16-17 (includes pupil characteristics) 

[1] Academic age is defined as ‘age at the start of the academic year’ i.e. age as at 31 August. Actual age is defined as ‘respondents age at the time surveyed’.

[2] Left to right indicates recommended order of preference in which the statistics should be used based on most users’ needs and robustness of the data.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Further information and comparisons with the other NEET sources can be found in section ‘7. Other NEET sources’ of the statistical commentary held on GOV.UK.

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Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about NEET age 16 to 24 statistics and data:

Post-16 statistics team

Contact name: Lucy Blyth

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If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone: 020 7783 8300

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