From the TUC

Concerning trends for younger and older workers

12 Nov 2008, by in Economics, Society & Welfare

Our initial analysis of this morning’s unemployment figures shows that a number of distrurbing trends are starting to emerge. Of particular concern is the increase in unemployment among young people, a 10 per cent quarterly increase compared to an 8.3 per cent increase among all economically active adults. Longer term unemployment is also increasing among the under 25s, with 6-12 month unemployment rates for this group showing a 6 per cent quarterly rise (compared to a 2.5 per cent increase accross the whole workforce).  The current unemployment rate among young people is 13.7 per cent. These figures are worrying – and as Paul Bivand points out at Inclusion, mean that unemployment rates among young people are now higher than they were in June 1997.

Older workers are also facing greater difficulties. The number of workers over 50 who find themselves unemployed for 6-12 months has shown a large quarterly increase of 29.7 per cent. In addition there was a 4.5 per cent decline in unemployment of over 12 months among the over 50s, which could indicate that people are choosing to leave the labour market rather than continuing to seek work.

The regional picture is mixed. As has been widely reported, Wales has seen the highest quarterly increase in unemployment, a rise of 1.7 per cent. This is significantly higher than the UK average rise of 0.4 per cent. The unemployment rate in Wales is now 6.7 per cent. But although they haven’t seen as great a rise, the North East has a higher rate – unemployment there is currently 8 per cent. Other areas are doing better – for example the unemployment rate in Scotland is still under the national average.

The Government have been keen to emphasise to us that large numbers of workers are still leaving Jobseekers Allowance to work, despite the increased numbers of claimants. But this month saw a fall in the number of leavers, and there are continuing reducations in job vacancies (a 6.3 per cent reduction this quarter). This doesn’t bode well for future unemployment levels.

We’ll be looking at this data in more detail next week, giving particular consideration to emerging trends and highlighting areas where we think action needs to be taken. If you have local observations on what’s happening where you are, particularly on how Jobcentre Plus are dealing with the increased claimant numbers, or have other comments on what the stats are showing us, please also let us know.