From the TUC

The government’s unimpressive job creation record

23 May 2012, by in Economics

At Prime Minister’s Questions today (watch here from about 19 minutes in)  Mr Cameron repeated his claim that his government has created 600,000 net new private sector jobs. (Hat-tip: @D_Blanchflower)

As Fact Check has noted, this is a claim the Prime Minister likes to repeat, even though it has been disproved a number of times; today’s figure simply updates similar data he quoted last year. This is surprising, because a closer look at the relevant statistics reveals a story that is less flattering to the government.

The Office for National Statistics publishes employment figures broken down by sector – the Public Sector Employment Statistics – quarterly, not monthly. The election took place in the middle of the second quarter of 2010, which ran from April to June. And it is true that in latest figures – for the final quarter of 2011 – private sector employment was 634,000 higher than it had been in the first quarter of 2010. Public sector employment was 381,000 lower.

But let’s look at the figures for each quarter and how they change:

That extra 314,000 private sector jobs in the second quarter of 2010 is important to the argument here. Without it, the government’s private sector job creation total falls to 320,000 – less than the 350,000 public sector jobs lost.

Fact Check have had a great deal of fun with a straight face, trying to work out how many of the 314,000 jobs were created in April and early May of 2010 and how many in late May and June. But of course, the government cannot plausibly claim responsibility for any of the increase that took place that quarter – if the change had been in the other direction we can be sure they’d have blamed it on Gordon Brown.

Why does the PM continue to draw our attention to figures that actually highlight one of his government’s failures? It’s a bit of a conundrum – any suggestions?