The national minimum wage will be increasing from April 2024  by a staggering 21.2% for 16-17 year olds. Compared to previous years, this percentage seems like a big jump, with 2023 offering an annual increase of 9.7% and 2022 offering 4.1%.

Grace, a college student in Hampshire who is currently working, has mixed opinions about the increase.

She said: “I think wages should be increased higher than that but any step we can take will help.”

However, though it initially seems like a win, this drastic percentage increase might not be something to celebrate. 

Though inflation has seemingly decreased from the unbearably high double-digit percentages the UK had to push through during the pandemic, the statistics are still worrying.

According to the Bank of England, the amount of commodity price shocks, or the amount of unpredictable events disrupting the economy, are “10.8 times larger (for energy prices) than typical pre-pandemic shocks,” as well as other nail-biting numbers for food prices and more.

Not to mention, workers who are already under pressure are pushed to their limits by the tightness of the labour market tightening measure, decreasing the number of available jobs there are for job searchers compared to the number of vacancies before the pandemic.

But Grace is still optimistic.

She said: “People will have more money to spend, so more jobs will be getting money in. People having more money will be important, especially with younger people, there’s a lot of young people trying to get jobs.”

This unstable, post-pandemic economy is not great timing for those in Hampshire who have already experienced financial pressure and are still experiencing pressure, from the cost of living crisis.

“There’s a lot of people working in retail, and hospitals, but the pay is so low there,” said Grace.

Though economists had been expecting inflation to continue its decrease from 3.7% in November 2023, in December it rose back up again to 4%, much to the dismay of the public. And who knows what numbers inflation will reach this new year. 

But the future looks less bleak. Despite the harsh financial conditions the UK had to battle against last winter, economists choose to remain optimistic, with the trajectory for inflation headed for a slow but steady decline- hopefully reaching around 2% by 2025.

As for the minimum wage, Grace sees it as a suitable increase.

“It’s very important,” she said. “A lot of college students will get more money now.”

At least one thing we can remain optimistic about is the hard-working, responsible attitude college students in Hampshire like Grace have, and how they look towards their future with a positive perspective.