Unemployment surged among young workers over the summer even as schemes to preserve jobs succeeded in keeping older Britons employed.
Joblessness among under-25s rose from 11.8pc in the three months to February to 13.4pc in July, according to the Office for National Statistics.
At the same time the share of young Britons in employment fell from 55.6pc to 52.9pc, wiping out half a decade of progress in bringing more 16 to 24-year-olds into work.
By contrast the official unemployment rate for those aged between 25 and 49 barely budged, edging up from 2.8pc to 2.9pc.
The unemployment rate has fallen for those aged over 50.
It means times are tough for young people whether they are at university and facing tight restrictions on socialising, learning and even leaving their halls of residence, or if they are seeking work but find they are locked out of industries that are usually big employers of those in their teens and early twenties.
Young workers are more vulnerable as they are more likely than other age groups to work in industries such as retail and hospitality, both of which have been heavily affected by social distancing rules and changed spending patterns.
Close to a quarter of young workers are employed in retail, wholesale and motor vehicle repair jobs, while just over 15pc work in accommodation and food services.
Almost three quarters of staff in the latter industry were furloughed in late spring and early summer, with close to 50pc of businesses reporting their revenues were cut in half.
The experience in retail and wholesale is more varied, as grocers in particular have benefited from strong demand for their goods throughout the year, but even so 40pc of the workforce was furloughed.
Hospitality workers are often seasonal, and 2020’s spring and summer hiring was cut short by the pandemic. Those who were not already on a business’s payroll were not able to use the furlough scheme.
The next rounds of hiring through the year have also been cancelled because of the pandemic, meaning the youth jobless numbers are likely to get worse before they get better, the industry warned.
Students will struggle to get bar work because of university lockdowns and isolation requirements, while the city centres which serve students will lack customers for the same reasons.
Meanwhile the large number of workers usually hired for the Christmas season will be left without jobs as functions such as office parties are cancelled and gatherings of more than six banned.
"Recruitment activity won't be taking place any time soon. Because of the new restrictions that have been imposed on hospitality and the way in which the job support scheme is framed, it is going to reduce opportunities for part-time working and reduce opportunities for young workers to come into the sector," said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality.
Hiring is only likely to start again if restrictions lift in six months' time, she said, at which point seasonal employers such as theme parks and holiday venues can begin to take on more staff, if they are confident there will be no more lockdowns, and if they have sufficient financial resources to remain afloat.
As the furlough scheme is wound down, with employers paying in more money during September and the final month of October, businesses have to decide which jobs are viable at a time of renewed Covid restrictions.
It will be replaced with the less generous Job Support Scheme, which requires employers to pay in more and is only available to workers who are putting in at least one-third of their usual pre-pandemic hours.
Ms Nicholls warned that as many as a million jobs could disappear in the coming months as tougher limits on opening hours slash profits for pubs, bars and restaurants, while reducing the need for staff and making it hard to use the JSS.
Football on high streets fell by 6.8pc last week compared to the week before, according to data from Springboard, driven by the latest advice to work from home, as well as the 10pm curfew on pub and restaurant opening hours.