From the TUC

Recession report #6: Unemployment rises, and looks as if it is going to go on rising for a long time

27 Apr 2009, by in Economic Reports, Economics, Working Life

Today we have published our sixth Recession Report, where we analyse the most recent labour market statistics.

What has been happening? It is not a pretty picture; the number of unemployed people and the proportion of the workforce who are unemployed have both risen, the number in employment and the proportion who are employed have both fallen, the number of job vacancies continues to fall precipitously.

Unemployment is measured in two ways:

  • The ‘claimant count’ – the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. In March there were 1,464,100 people claiming JSA. This was an increase of 73,700 on the month and a whopping 672,100 on the year.
  • Unemployment can also be measured using an internationally agreed definition – people who don’t have a job, want one, have been actively looking for work in the last 4 weeks and are able to start work in the next two weeks. (Sometimes called the ‘ILO measure’.) In the three months to February, unemployment stood at 2.1 million, up 177,000 on the quarter and 486,000 on the year. The rate of quarterly increase was 9.9 per cent for men, and 8.2 per cent for women.

This week’s Budget Report forecasts that claimant unemployment will rise to 2.09 million this December and will stand at 2.44 million at the end of 2010. The estimates are reliant upon an average monthly claimant count increase of 29,500 during 2010, which may prove optimistic.

At the end of March Jobcentre Plus had 462,000 job vacancies, 68,000 down on the previous three months and 231,000 down on the year.

In the second part of the report we consider black people and the recession; we look at the employment and unemployment gaps between white people and black and minority ethnic people, and the industries where BME workers have lost jobs.

The TUC is increasingly concerned about rocketing youth unemployment. There are now two-thirds of a million unemployed young people and we expect that, by the end of the year, 200,000 young people will have been unemployed for over a year.

There has been a lot of talk about a ‘middle class recession’ and it is true that unemployment is rising for managers and professionals. But the status gradient in unemployment is still strong – unemployment rose most last year for workers in elementary occupations, and rose from a base that was already much higher than for higher status groups:

ILO unemployment rates (%) by previous occupation 2008 Q1 – Q4:


Mangers & senior officials

Professional occupations

Elementary occupations

Q1 2008




Q2 2008




Q3 2008




Q4 2008




Increase Q1-Q4




We aim to publish our Recession Reports as soon after the unemployment statistics are released as possible. If you’d like to be added to our regular mailing list, please let us know (just comment below, and we’ll email you back to confirm).  All previous recession reports can be found here.