There has been a surge in the number of people who have never worked despite record levels of employment, a new study suggests.

The proportion of people of working age who have never been in a job has increased by 50% over the past two decades, said the Resolution Foundation.

The think tank said its research found that 8.2% of people aged 16-64 in the UK today (3.4 million in total) have never had a paid job.

This is a 50% increase since 1998 when 5.4% had never worked, so as a result, one in three workless people in the UK today has never worked before, said the report.

Arguments that a generous welfare system leaves families choosing to be workless are wide of the mark, as both household worklessness and economic inactivity are at record lows, and out of work benefits have become less generous over recent decades, said the foundation.

Its report said the employment rate of 16 to 17-year-olds has virtually halved over the past two decades - from 48.1% in 1997-99 to 25.4% in 2017-19.

Two-thirds of the fall is driven by a declining employment rate among 16 to 17-year-olds at school or college, it was indicated.

Laura Gardiner, research director at the Resolution Foundation, said: "More and more of us are now working, with employment hitting record highs and worklessness hitting record lows, but despite this, around one in 12 working-age adults have never worked a day in their lives - a 50% increase since the late 1990s.

"The rising number of people who have never had a paid job has been driven by the death of the teenage Saturday job and a wider turn away from earning while learning.

"With young people today expected to end their working lives at a later age than previous generations, it's understandable that they want to start their working lives at a later age too.

"But this lack of work experience can create longer-term problems, particularly if they hit other life milestones like motherhood or ill-health before their careers have got off the ground."