More than three-quarters (79.6 per cent) of repeat crimes were carried out by adults and half (53.8 per cent) were the work of career criminals with 25 or more previous convictions.
But younger offenders are less likely to go straight.
The re-offending rate for juveniles stands at 34.1 per cent compared with 24.9 per cent for adults, although five times as many adults go through the criminal justice system.
According to the MoJ report, the group recording the "biggest increase" in the re-offending rate over the past decade was "juveniles who received a community penalty".
The figures show that in 2000, 60.5 per cent of under-18s given supervision orders, curfew orders or community punishment orders went on to re-offend.
But by June 2010 that proportion had risen by 9 per cent, to reach 66 per cent.
Over the same period, the proportion of juveniles sent to prison who went on to commit more crimes fell from 76.8 per cent to 69.3 per cent.
However the MoJ claimed the contrasting figures could be misleading, as far fewer youths are being given non-custodial sentences, leaving a few thousand recidivists.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Sentencing is a matter for the courts, but sentences must be proportionate to the offence. While longer custodial sentences may give more time to deliver interventions, this is not the only way to tackle offending behaviour.
"We are currently consulting on the future shape of community sentences which can also be effective by curtailing freedom through tagged curfews, requiring offenders to payback to the community and allowing them to maintain vital links to family and work."