More than 20,000 young people are receiving Jobseeker's Allowance, it has been revealed.
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark Durkan received the figures from Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.
He said government must do more to tackle the problem of soaring youth unemployment.
"These figures make for depressing reading and a sure sign that our young people are being failed by government," he said.
"The Programme for Government pledged the creation of over 20,000 jobs over the next four years, but the reality is that they are not being delivered.
"These statistics do not tell the full story; how many young people have left these shores to seek work elsewhere? Sadly our young people have become our chief export.
"Not only is this depriving society of a generation of talented young workers, but it is separating families and ripping the heart out of communities across the North."
Mr Durkan received information from the minister that 20,046 young people are receiving JSA.
SDLP Youth will launch their Jobs4aNewGeneration campaign tomorrow at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, which aims to identify ways in which more employment opportunities can be created for young people here.