Calendar year 2022

NEET age 16 to 24

Headline facts and figures - 2022

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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 2022. 

As quarter four (October to December) 2022 is the latest data available and the first full quarter of the 2022/23 academic year, commentary in this release focuses mainly on this quarter. 

In June 2022, a new weighting variable was introduced by the Office for National Statistics to LFS datasets from January to March 2020. This latest weight uses updated population data to better reflect changes in international migration and other impacts as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This reweighting exercise had minimal impact on NEET rates at ages 16 to 24, although it does mean that when comparing 2020 and 2021 rates from the previous NEET publication to the current publication, small differences may be seen. More information about the impact of the reweighting in light of the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the methodology document.

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 2021 and 2022, the proportion NEET:

  • Increased for the overall 16-24 age group to 12.3%, the highest rate since 2014. The annual change of 1.8 percentage points compared with the end 2021 estimate of 10.5% is statistically significant meaning we are confident that there is an increase in the population NEET rate based on analysis of this sample from the Labour Force Survey.  
  • Increased for the 16-17 age group to 4.5%, up 1.4 percentage points from 3.0% at end 2021. The 2022 rate is comparable to pre-pandemic levels following record low rates at these younger ages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Increased for the 18-24 age group to 14.5%, the highest rate since 2014 and a statistically significant annual change of 2.0 percentage points from 12.6% at the end of 2021.


The proportion NEET varies by age:

Ages 16-17

  • 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%. Although the 2022 rate shows an increase, it is comparable to the pre-pandemic 2019 rate and is still 4.7 percentage points lower than the series peak in 2005.
  • Although single age analysis should be viewed with caution due to sample sizes, it is worth noting that we do see increases in the NEET rate at both ages 16 and 17, with a statistically significant increase at age 17, up to 5.4% from 2.9% in 2021. However, rates during the pandemic at age 17 were notably lower than the rest of the series so this annual change should be viewed with that in mind, it is however the second highest age 17 rate since RPA legislation.

Ages 18-24

  • Those aged 18-24, who won’t be subject to RPA, have a much higher NEET rate which in 2022 was 14.5%, a statistically significant increase compared with 2021. Looking at this older age group we see a statistically significant increase in the NEET rate at age 18, up 7.6 percentage points to 15.9%, the highest rate since 2008 during the recession.
  • Many of the 18-24 age group are no longer in education and are instead in the labour market.  During a recession, less economic activity takes place and so there are fewer jobs available and more redundancies, increasing the number NEET. The 18-24 NEET rate increased to the series peak of 18.5% following the 2008 recession.  

NEET rate by age in England, October to December, 2019 to 2022

 Academic age (age as at 31st August)Oct to Dec 2019Oct to Dec 2020Oct to Dec 2021Oct to Dec 202295% confidence interval for Oct to Dec 2022[1] (percentage points)Annual change from Oct-Dec 2021 to 2022 (percentage points, statistically significant changes in bold[2])
Ages 16-174.5%2.9%3.0%4.5%+/- 1.3pp1.4pp
Ages 16-187.5%6.0%4.7%8.2%+/- 1.4pp3.5pp
     Age 164.3%3.8%3.2%3.7%+/- 1.6pp0.4pp
    Age 174.7%2.0%2.9%5.4%+/- 2.0pp2.5pp
   Age 1813.1%12.6%8.3%15.9%+/- 3.6pp7.6pp
Ages 18-2413.0%14.2%12.6%14.5%+/- 1.4pp2.0pp
Ages 19-2413.0%14.4%13.2%14.3%+/- 1.5pp1.1pp
Ages 16-2411.3%11.8%10.5%12.3%+/- 1.1pp1.8pp

[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. 

[2] If a comparison between two estimates is statistically significant, we can be 95% sure that the change reflects reality and is not attributable to chance.

Not in education or training (NET) rates by age

Between October to December 2021 and 2022, the proportion NET:

  • Increased for the overall 16-24 age group to 41.5%, although this is still one of the lowest rates in the series with only 2021 being lower.
  • Increased for the 16-17 age group to 6.3%, up 2.0 percentage points, a statistically significant increase. The 2022 rate is however comparable to pre-pandemic levels following record low rates at these younger ages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Increased for the 18-24 age group to 51.5%, however it remains one of the lowest in the series with only 2021 being lower.

Ages 16-17

  • Between October to December 2021 and 2022, the first quarter of the 2022/23 academic year, the proportion of 16-17 year olds not in education or training (NET) increased significantly to 6.3% from 4.3% at end 2021 (+ 2.0 percentage points). 
  • There was a statistically significant increase in NET at age 17, up to 9.0% from 4.7% with the NET rate at age 16 remaining relatively stable.

Ages 18-24

  • Despite the 18-24 NET rate increasing in 2022, the latest estimate of 51.5% remains one of the lowest in the series with just the 2021 rate being lower.
  • It is worth noting, although not statistically significant there is a notable increase in the NET rate at age 18, up 5.7 percentage points to 32.0%, the highest rate since 2009.

NET rate by age in England, October to December, 2019 to 2022

 Academic age (age as at 31st August)Oct to Dec 2019Oct to Dec 2020Oct to Dec 2021Oct to Dec 202295% confidence interval for Oct to Dec 2022[1] (percentage points)Annual change from Oct-Dec 2021 to 2022 (percentage points, statistically significant changes in bold[2])
Ages 16-176.6%4.1%4.3%6.3%+/- 1.5pp2.0pp
    Age 165.0%4.7%3.8%3.9%+/- 1.6pp0.1pp
    Age 178.1%3.5%4.7%9.0%+/- 2.5pp4.3pp
    Age 1831.9%27.3%26.3%32.0%+/- 4.5pp5.7pp
Ages 18-2454.4%53.0%49.8%51.5%+/- 2.0pp1.7pp
Ages 16-2444.6%42.6%39.7%41.5%+/- 1.7pp1.8pp

This section aims to summarise the drivers for the annual changes in NEET and NET rates by focussing on changes in the proportions in:

  • education and training
  • employment 
  • and for those who are NEET whether they are unemployed or economically inactive

Due to large differences in these rates between those of compulsory school age (16/17) and those age 18-24 who are more likely to be in the labour market, analysis at these ages are included in the commentary. 

  • At ages 16-24 falls in education and training have resulted in more young people being NEET, with proportions in employment remaining relatively stable. There have been increases in those unemployed and economically inactive. 
  • At ages 16/17, the falls in the proportion in education and training in the latest year are due to more being in employment as well as increases in NEET (both inactive and unemployed).  
  • At ages 18-24 the story is slightly different with falls in education and training and less in employment. This has led to increases in the proportion NEET (again both inactive and unemployed). 

The following section looks in more detail at the reasons NEET, including unemployment duration and reasons for economic inactivity. 

Reasons NEET (overall age 16-24)

Labour market status of the overall 16-24 population

  • Unemployment: Looking at the timeseries, the unemployment rate for the 16-24 population increased in the years following the 2008/2009 recession, peaking in 2011. This proportion had fallen and remained broadly stable until 2020 when it increased, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall unemployment rate for the 16-24 year old population increased in 2022 to 4.9% with a statistically significant increase in those unemployed for less than 6 months.
  • Economic inactivity: reasons have changed notably since the recession with young people more likely to be economically inactive due to being sick and disabled and much less likely to be looking after family/home. Latest estimates show increases in the proportion of the population being long term sick and ‘other’ reasons (which will include those waiting for education or employment to start or not wanting to participate) contributing to the increase in NEET.

The labour market status of young people who are classified as NEET has changed over time. 

Labour market status of those 16-24 NEET:

Since 2014, more young people have been NEET due to economic inactivity than due to being unemployed. Latest figures show that 60.5% of young people NEET are economically inactive, meaning they are not unemployed and actively seeking work.

In 2022, the proportion NEET increased as a result of less in education and training and more young people in short-term unemployment or long-term or temporarily sick. Of those 16-24 NEET:

  • 39.5% were unemployed, with 29.2% being unemployed for less than 6 months, an increase of 5.3 percentage points, one of the drivers for the increase in NEET.
  • 25.6% were inactive due to being ‘long term or temporarily sick’, the highest proportion in the series. This has increased to just over one in four NEETs in 2022 compared to one in ten in 2012.
  • The proportion with main reason for inactivity being ‘looking after family or home’ saw a large decrease in 2020 from 17.3% to 9.7%. As recently as 2014 we have seen as many as 1 in 4 NEET for this reason. Latest estimates show the proportion has increased slightly to 11.1% in 2022, but is still notably lower than pre-2020.
  • The main reason for inactivity being ‘other reason’, which will include those waiting for education or employment to start or not wanting to participate, contributes to just under a quarter of all 16-24 NEETS.

The following analysis uses Annual Population Survey (APS) data covering the twelve month period from October to September for the years 2012 to 2022.

NEET rates can differ slightly using the APS and LFS. The APS NEET rate for 16-24 year olds was 11.6% for the 12-month period, compared with 12.3% for LFS quarter 4. Due to larger sample sizes in the APS we use this data when looking at specific groups in the population.

Figure 5 below shows the overall APS NEET rate over time compared to the proportion of NEETs with a health condition, which may contribute to their reason for being NEET. 

Data shows that as the NEET rate has generally declined over the series, proportionally more NEETs are reported to have a health condition in recent years compared to the start of the series.

In 2022 those NEET were nearly twice as likely to have a health condition compared to the overall 16-24 population (47.2% and 25.6% respectively). These rates are the highest in the series for the respective populations (see figure 6 below).

Over the last decade this increase has been largely due to increases in the proportion with a mental health condition:

In the latest year:

  • The proportion of those 16-24 NEET with a mental health condition has fallen (by 1.1 percentage points to 20.3%). 
  • Despite this fall, estimates in 2022 show that 1 in 5 of those NEET currently have a mental health condition compared with 1 in 13 in 2012. The conditions reported for mental health include depression, bad nerves, anxiety, mental illness, or suffering from phobia, panics or other nervous disorders.
  • The proportion of those NEET with a non-mental health condition has increased by 1.5 percentage points from last year, following an upwards trajectory since 2017. It is now at its highest rate in the series with 26.9% of NEETs reporting a non-mental health condition (the full list of non-mental health conditions can be found in the methodology).

Type of health condition 16-24 NEETs

Figure 7 below shows the type of health condition reported by 16-24 NEETS and how the proportion varies over time. The proportion of NEETs with a mental health condition has increased more than any other health condition over the period. 

In the latest year:

  • All types of health conditions are over-represented for those NEET when compared to the total 16-24 population.
  • NEET with a mental health condition is over two and half times the rate in 2012 when it was just 7.7%
  • Those with learning difficulties, which includes those with autism, make up 8.2% of the NEET population. Although this shows an increase in the last couple of years, it is unclear if this is part of a longer trend because the definition of learning difficulties changed in 2020. Despite this, the rate for learning difficulties including autism, is over twice as high for NEETs compared to the general 16-24 population (3.7%).

NEET rate by gender (overall age 16-24)

Historic trends have shown that females have had higher NEET rates than males, however since 2020 females have had notably lower NEET rate. 

In the latest year: 

  • Female NEET rate is 11.8%, a statistically significant increase of  2.7 percentage points, following a record low in 2021.
  • Male NEET rate has also increased to 12.8%. 
  • NEET gender gap has narrowed to 1.0 percentage point. 

Labour market status by gender:

In the latest year the proportion of the 16-24 population:

  • In short-term unemployment has increased for both males and females (statistically significant increase for females).
  • Who were inactive due to ‘long-term or temporarily sick’ has increased for females and remained relatively stable for males.

There are however some gender differences in the main reason for being NEET: 

  • Females are still more likely to be NEET due to ‘looking after family/home’ than males (2.6% compared with 0.2% of their respective populations). However, in the last couple of years more females are inactive due to ‘long-term or temporarily sick’ than ‘looking after family/home’. 
  • A higher proportion of males are unemployed than females  (5.7% compared with 3.9% of their respective populations).
  • Overall age 16-24 male inactivity rate has increased and is the highest in the series (7.1% of population). Female inactivity rates have seen a notable increase returning to pre-pandemic levels.

NEET rate by region (overall age 16-24)

Note: Regional estimates have larger error margins due to smaller sample sizes, resulting in wider confidence intervals of between +/- 2.7percentage points in the South West and +/- 5.1 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 10.

For 16-24 year olds in October to December 2022:

  • North East had the highest NEET rate of all the regions at 17.2%, and has had the highest rate of all regions since 2014.
  • South West has the lowest NEET rate at 7.8%. 
  • There was a statistically significant increase in the NEET rate for the South East region which increased from 9.6% to 13.1%. 

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 11 below shows the quarterly NEET estimates since 2010 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 aged 16 to 24Young 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.  

Participation in education, training and employment 

Participation in education, training and employment statistics are DfE’s (Department for Education’s) definitive statistics on participation, NEET and NET for the 16-18 age group. As these estimates are based on administrative data, they are considered the most robust available. The estimates relate to a snapshot of activities at the end of the calendar year,

DfE’s October to December NEET/NET estimates using the Labour Force Survey (usually published February/March each year) are indicative of the end of year NEET/NET figures in the Participation release (usually published June each year). Figure 12 below shows how estimates from the two sources have compared since 2000.

In 2021 (the latest year for both LFS data and the Participation release), the NEET and NET rates for 16-18 year olds varies more than in previous years. LFS data is survey data where NEET/NET status is self-reported by the young person, whereas the Participation release uses admin data, reported by institutions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, differences in reporting methods may have contributed to this variation . A longer time series will help identify if this is a new trend or simply an effect of the pandemic.

The next Participation statistics, covering the period end 2022, are scheduled to be published in summer 2023. 

Local authority NEET and participation

Age 16-17 regional and local authority NEET estimates are published annually by DfE as transparency data. Figures on NEETs are provided as an average of December, January and February.  This information comes from local authorities NCCIS systems (National Client Caseload Information System) .

Similar to the trend seen in figure 12, NEET rates for young people aged 16/17 (figure 13) show divergence across the different NEET sources for the latest year (2021). This again could be due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a longer time series will be required to assess whether or not this is a new pattern.

Some caution should be taken if using the NCCIS figures. This is due to the estimates being based on management information which means they are not produced to the same standards as official/National statistics. Also, the NCCIS figures include ‘not known’ activity, which results in some overestimation of NEET, as can be seen in the chart when comparing the NCCIS figures to the LFS and participation figures.

The proportion of those aged 16/17 whose activities are ‘not known’ varies at local authority/regional level and between years so particular caution should be taken when making geographic and/or time-series comparisons.

Young People NEET (ONS)

Users should also be aware of the ONS (Office for National Statistics) release: Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), UK - Office for National Statistics ( 

Whilst they are based on the same quarterly LFS data, the NEET and NET figures in the DfE release differ from those in the ONS release due to coverage and methodological differences as shown in the “Other NEET sources” table above.

The headline ONS figures are seasonally adjusted whilst the DfE figures are not and this accounts for most of the differences. The respective use of academic age (DfE) and actual age (ONS) has little impact at overall age 16-24 (but is more notable at the younger 16/17 age group). Whilst the ONS and DfE figures are based on UK and England respectively, this only accounts for a small degree of variation[3] as the UK figures are primarily driven by England. 


[3]The ONS seasonally adjusted 16-24 UK NEET figure for October to December 2022 was 11.5%, compared with the DfE (non-seasonally adjusted) 16-24 England NEET figure of  12.3%, a difference of 0.8 percentage points.

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