From the TUC

‘Total’ unemployment is 6.3 million

14 Feb 2012, by in Labour market

New analysis published by the TUC today shows that unemployment in the UK stands at 6.3 million, when using the American U6 measure of unemployment. While the UK has two common measures of joblessness, ILO unemployment (2.69 million) and the claimant count (1.6 million), the US uses six measures of joblessness that incorporate long-term unemployment, recent job losses, redundancies and under-employment, such as working part-time because full-time work isn’t available.

Using official UK government data, the TUC analysis has replicated the six measures of US unemployment and found that using the broadest measure of joblessness, U6 or ‘total’ unemployment in the UK is currently over 6.3 million. The highest it has been since records began in April 1993, when it was 6.1 million.

Total Unemployment compared to ILO unemployment

(Data in thousands)

total unemployment v ilo unemployment graph

While ILO unemployment (2.95 million in April 1993) was higher in the early 1990s than today, under-employment,  people working part-time because they cannot find full time jobs is higher today  at (1.3 million) than at any point since April 1993, when it stood at 802,000.

The analysis also shows that under-employment, people doing temporary or part-time jobs because they cannot find permanent or full-time work has risen to a record 1.9 million.

Total Unemployment

(Data in thousands) 

Total Unemployment graph

The record levels of under-employment today show that the jobs crisis is far worse than the headline figures suggests, while involuntary part-time and temporary jobs are better than no work at all in most cases, these tend to be low-paid, insecure, have little or no career prospects and so not a sustainable way to solve the UK’s labour market problems.

The TUC is calling on the government to acknowledge the scale of the jobs crisis, rather than simply repeat the ill-informed claim that there are plenty of jobs out there and blaming the unemployed. It wants ministers to take action to get vital investment into the private sector so that it starts creating jobs, stop putting hundreds of thousands of public servants on the dole and boost job schemes to get younger people back into work.

U1-U6 unemployment in the UK, April 1993-October 2011
U1 (000s) U2 (000s) U3 (000s) U4 (000s) U5 (000s) U6 (000s)
April 1993 1,813 2,952 3,119 5,304 6,106
April 1997 1,077 165 2,047 2,146 4,579 5,384
April 2001 588 166 1,431 1,473 3,745 4,361
April 2005 518 128 1,437 1,479 3,599 4,184
April 2009 969 304 2,377 2,444 4,640 5,575
April 2011 1,245 144 2,452 2,530 4,831 6,085
Oct 2011 1,372 164 2,685 2,753 5,026 6,337


 Source: ONS

Descriptions of the six measures of US unemployment (U1-U6)
U1: Persons unemployed for 15 weeks or longer (These figures are not included in U6 unemployment).
U2: Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs. (The TUC has used redundancy figures as the nearest UK equivalent. These figures are not included in U6 unemployment.)
U3: Total unemployed (official unemployment rate)
U4: Total unemployed plus discouraged workers
U5: Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labour market. (The UK equivalent of ‘marginally attached’ are the ‘want work’ figures – those who say they would like a regular paid job, but who do not meet the internationally agreed definition of unemployment because they have not been looking for work in the last four weeks and/or they were unable to start working within two weeks.)
U6: Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labour market, plus total employed part time for economic reasons
You can download a full table of U1-U6 unemployment in the UK from April 1993 to October 2011

7 Responses to ‘Total’ unemployment is 6.3 million

  1. John
    Feb 15th 2012, 1:00 am

    Thankyou for this very good article Anjum. So the true figures are now available! As most people know each uk government have always tried to manipulate the unemployment figures to produce the least damaging political result for them. Who was it who said there are ”lies, lies & dammed statistics”? I am not specialist on this very important subject, but when being out of work [especially long term] this then affects everything from your personal finance, your family, your physical & psychological health etc, etc. Governments, especially THIS government do not care about that at all. All they want is for you get yourself off the unemployment register, full stop. Should there not be at least a revised European Standard on how to properly calculate unemployment? This should & can only be jointly agreed by governments, unions, universities, certain NGO’s, etc so that these figures cannot then ever be massaged, no matter who is in power!

  2. Indian Govt Jobs
    Feb 15th 2012, 7:00 am

    This is very nice post and the issue here declared is very serious indeed.
    6.3 million is really a very large number to adjust.

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