Unemployment has risen in the last three months but you wouldn’t know that from today’s gushing press release from the Stephen Crabb and the DWP.
There were 21,000 more unemployed people in the latest period and, in further bad news for the government, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by just under 7000. Neither of these key facts are mentioned on the DWP websites and it is only by digging into the Labour Market Release produced by the Office for National Statistics that this information is available.
Previously the DWP has sulkily acknowledged any rise in unemployment whilst pointing out how wonderful everything else is. The truth is that the Labour Market Statistics contain a huge amount of information and normal fluctuations within the figures mean that they can usually be cherry-picked for both good and bad news. Stephen Crabb does just that today by claiming that a small fall in the number of people who are economically inactive is a huge triumph. This by the way is always a sign of desperation. A fall in economic inactivity can mean a massive amount of things, from variations in the number of those who are long term sick to a drop in the number of people taking early retirement. In the latest figures it largely represents a fall in the number of students and of those taking time from work to look after the family home.
Crabb is also celebrating a tiny rise in the total number of people with jobs with the DWP claiming this is driven by those entering full time work. But even this is hugely misleading. Population increases combined with a just about growing economy mean that there are almost always more people in work than ever before. The question is whether the rise in the number of jobs is keeping pace with growth in the working age population. This month that didnt happen. The number of working age people rose by 27,000 in the latest three month period, but the working population grew by just 22,000. And whilst there was an increase in full time work as Crabb claimed, this was only amongst those who are self-employed. The number of people working full time for an employer fell by 34,000.
These figures don’t matter much unless we see them repeated over the coming months. What is critical is the way they were, or in most cases werent announced by the government. Departmental communications are bound by rules intended to ensure both impartiality and objectivity. Yet today’s press release from the DWP was an attempt to deliberately mislead the public about the true state of the UK’s labour market and that’s called lying. Even Iain Duncan Smith didn’t try and pull this sort of shit. Not that often anyway. Stephen Crabb is moving in a dangerous direction. Don’t believe a fucking word he says.
Image above from the recent protest in Wales calling on Crabb to resign from his local Mencap branch over supporting cuts to disabled people’s benefits.
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