Today’s unemployment figures
Today’s labour market statistics show unemployment reaching 2.47 million – two and a half million next month seems inevitable, with the figure climbing about 35,000 each month.
Unemployment has now risen for 14 consecutive months. The figures for men and for 18 – 24 year olds have not fallen since December 2007, women’s unemployment is the highest it has been since April 1994.
To add to the misery, there are now 558,000 people who have been unemployed for over 12 months and 238,000 who have been unemployed for over 24 months. These figures include 173,000 under 25s unemployed over 12 months (and at least 55,000 of them for more than 24 months.)
This isn’t just a British problem, though some newspapers seem to believe that the Prime Minister is uniquely and personally responsible for the recession. As Tim has pointed out, today’s OECD Economic Outlook is a useful corrective to the parochialism of British debates.
In contrast to what the opposition parties claim, Britain is doing no worse than other countries – our rise is “nearly identical to the average rise for the OECD area” and is less marked than in “ other countries where the banking and housing sectors also suffered strong reversals, in particular, Spain, Ireland and the United States.” Young people have been worst affected, but “ this is consistent with a widespread pattern across OECD countries, according to which already relatively disadvantaged groups in the labour force —youth, but also the low-skilled, immigrants and ethnic minorities— are bearing the brunt of rising unemployment.”
The OECD picks on the Future Jobs Fund as an example of an “encouraging” trend in which OECD governments “have moved more forcefully to reinforce re-employment assistance for job seekers than in earlier recessions.” Almost exactly what the PM said to Congress yesterday – cutting back this support would be an absolute disaster!