The number of West teenagers being forced onto the scrapheap by the recession has soared in the past year, worrying figures revealed yesterday.
There has been an 18.5 per cent rise in 16-18-year-olds who are NEET – not in education, employment or training.
There were just over 6,200 in this category across the West in 2010, and the number leapt to more than 7,630 last year, the official data showed.
Bristol had the highest proportion of NEETS, at 8.8 per cent, up from 7.5 per cent in 12 months, followed by Wiltshire at 6.3 per cent, Swindon (6 per cent), Devon (5.8), Dorset (5.6) and Gloucestershire (5.4).
In South Gloucestershire, 5.3 per cent of the age group are neither working nor studying, the same as in Bath & North East Somerset.
And it is 4.1 per cent in North Somerset and just 3.5 per cent in Somerset, which actually had 80 fewer NEETS, with its percentage down from 4.3 per cent.
The actual numbers in all areas could be significantly higher as the data also shows there are large numbers of teens whose status is "not known".
Last year Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pledged to get to grips with the problem, warning: "Youth unemployment is an economic waste and a slow-burn social disaster."
But the continuing rise in the figures was condemned by Labour's spokeswoman for young people, Karen Buck.
She said: "Today's figures are another nail in the coffin of the Government's failed economic plan.
"This generation of young people is paying a huge price for the recession made in Downing Street – long-term youth unemployment has more than doubled in the last year.
Across England, the number of NEETs jumped from 146,430 in 2010 (7.5 per cent) to 154,710 last year (8.1 per cent). A NEET will cost the taxpayer an extra £56,000 in public services, and £104,000 in lost opportunities, by retirement age, the Audit Commission found.