85,000 NEET Youth – what does this mean?

The number of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) is generally considered to be a measure of youth disengagement from social and political participation. Such disengagement can result in poorer mental and physical wellbeing and be a risk for antisocial or criminal activity.[1] Therefore high NEET figures are considered to be a concerning reality in our community.

Statistics New Zealand produces NZ’s official NEET statistics using data from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). The HLFS is a quarterly survey administered by Statistics New Zealand and is designed to provide information on the NZ labour force.

The NEET number (85,000) and rate (11%) includes young people who are who are unemployed (part of the labour force), and those who are not in the labour force, and simultaneously not in education or training.

Figure 1: Who counts as NEET using the official measure from the HLFS[2]

There are generally more NEET youth aged 20-24 years (over 70%) then there are those aged 15-19. There are also typically more females than males. This is largely due to females taking on more caregiving responsibilities. In 2015, 65% of NEET youth had children.

The largest proportion of young people who are NEET are unemployed (approximately 40%) and they tend to be actively seeking work. The longer a young person is not in education, employment or training the more dismal their prospects seem to be.

The next blog will look at why youth disengagement is happening and ways of ensuring that all young people can participate in education, employment or training, potentially alongside any caregiving responsibilities that they may have.

[1] Maguire, S. (2013). What measures can be taken to address the specific problem of young people who are NEET? Intereconomics, 48(4), 196-201.

[2] New Zealand Work Research Institute (2016). Y-NEET: Empirical Evidence for New Zealand. Auckland: AUT.

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