Tag Archives: unemployment figure

Why Falling Unemployment Can Be Bad News For Everyone


Economic inactivity by reason (aged 16 to 64)

More people are in work than ever before claim the DWP triumphantly as the unemployment figures show another huge rise in self-employment.  Whether these people are making any money, or whether they are pensioners with an ebay hobby, does not seem to matter as the Tories attempt to spin that Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are working.

Yet all that has happened is the economy has started to grow a bit and so unemployment has fallen a bit.  This is what always happens when economies start to grow – and due to a rising population there are almost always more people in work than ever before unless there is a severe economic downturn.  It matters barely at all what governments do to unemployed people – in a recession unemployment goes up, and in a recovery it goes down.  This is because unemployed people are not responsible for unemployment, despite the multi-billion pound welfare-to-work scam pretending that they are.

Falling unemployment may be good for the country’s economy, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good thing for the people who actually live and work here.  The key to this lies in the figures for Economic Inactivity, currently at its lowest level since 1990 according to the ONS.  This is seen by politicians of all parties as a good thing.  A closer look reveals that is far from the case.

The largest group of people who are economically inactive are those looking after a family, many who will share in their partner’s salary.  The second largest group is students, whilst there are also 1.31 million people who have been lucky enough to retire before reaching pensionable age.  The other groups include those who are long term sick, whose numbers remain fairly stable, and a million or so ‘other’ – students on a gap year perhaps, or volunteers who can afford not to claim benefits.

If the number of people who are ‘Economically Inactive’ is falling, and it is, sharply, then that means less young people who can afford to be students.  It means less parents being able to afford to stay at home with young children, and less people able to afford to take early retirement.  This is not good news if you happen to be one of those people, in fact it’s a bit shit.

What it also means is that these often more experienced workers remaining in, or rejoining the workforce, are crowding out those who are unemployed and desperate to find a job.  This is almost certainly one reason why despite dubious claims that over a million new jobs have been created,  unemployment stood at 2.46 million in the first period after this Government weren’t elected and has since fallen to just 2.24 million.  It could also explain why the number of people unemployed over 12 months was 796,000 in August 2010 and after four years of welfare reforms, workfare and sanctions aimed at this group the number has actually risen to 807,000.

A fall in Economic Inactivity really represents a downward shift in the living standards of everyone.  Those who are slightly better off are having to work longer and harder, and those at the bottom are more marginalised than ever.  It’s good news for the bosses though, as more people are chasing every job and driving down wages for us all.  And for Tories –  who can’t bear the thought of a pleb enjoying an early retirement when there’s still a few years of profit to be extracted from their work – it’s the best news of all.

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Record Numbers On Workfare and In-Work Housing Benefit Claims Top One Million – They Call This Recovery

workfare-isnt-workingThe number of unpaid workers rose by over 10,000 people in the three months to September yesterday’s Labour Market Statistics revealed.

The number of people in “government supported training and employment programmes” – climbed by 11,000 to reach 175,000 – the highest figure since workfare began.

This could be due to an increase in unpaid work for young people with the launch of Traineeships in August.  These schemes involve a period of up to five months working without a wage and are designed to ‘prepare’ people for taking up Apprenticeships, often at below the minimum wage.  Predictably several major companies, including Boots and Kwik-fit, have been only to happy to take up this tax payer funded offer of free workers.

Young people cannot currently be forced to start on a Traineeships which are officially voluntary (UPDATE: at least the work experience element is).  Such is the toxic regime at Jobcentres however, where claims can be sanctioned for ever more ludicrous reasons, it is likely many young unemployed people feel they have no choice but to work unpaid.

And even if this were not the case, Traineeships still represent a wealth grab by grasping employers.  Some of the UK’s richest companies are exploiting young people’s very real fear of unemployment to convince them that they should work for nothing in jobs which would once have come with a wage.

Unpaid workers on these schemes are counted as employed, a handy distortion of the figures for a Government that claims they are bringing down unemployment.  With the numbers in part-time work, precarious self-employment or workfare all at record levels, and wages falling far behind inflation, the true picture of the labour market is far from good news. Recent Housing Benefit statistics* show that the number claiming help with housing costs remains at record levels.  Over 5 million people are on this benefit and for the first time, in July 2013, the number of working Housing Benefit claimants topped one million.

Other statistics published this week show that 522,000 people so far face the threat of homelessness due to the Bedroom Tax.  Every measure of homelessness is already rising.  The number of people dependent on foodbanks is soaring.  If this is a recovery then what the fuck does a recession look like?

*The Housing Benefits statistics are now being released via the near incomprehensible DWP Stat-Xplore website.

Join the Week of Action Against Workfare beginning on December 2nd, please spread the word.

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Youth Unemployment Soars By 5%

Chart 12: Unemployment rate (aged 16+), seasonally adjustedunemploymentratechart_tcm77-303128Today’s unemployment figures, conveniently released on budget day, make a mockery of George Osborne’s reckless job market predictions.  Youth unemployment rose by 48,000 people this month, almost 5%.  This is despite record numbers of young people on workfare who are not included in the figures which also cover the busy Christmas period.

Unemployment overall rose by 7000 and the number of people unemployed over two years by 2000 – despite the floundering £6 billion Work Programme aimed at helping long term unemployed people find jobs.

Osborne’s lie today that a million new jobs have been created unravels simply by looking at the graph above.  These so called new jobs are in many cases workfare, part time or tax credit funded and low earning self-employment.

The truth is that the unemployment rate has been as flat as the economy ever since this Government weren’t elected.  The situation is little better than at the peak of the first recession.  And now it is rising again, which if it continues will throw all of today’s budget’s benefit bonanza for business into chaos.

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