From the TUC

How good is Britain’s employment record?

10 Jul 2013, by in Economics, Labour market

The government is proud of the jobs being created in Britain, but how good is this record if you compare us to other advanced countries? The TUC aims to answer this question at a seminar next Tuesday with experts from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands debating the issue.

You can debate the accuracy of David Cameron’s repeated boast that a million private sector jobs have been created since the election, but there’s no doubt that the rising employment level has been one bright spark during a pretty gloomy period. An employment recovery began during the second half of 2011, and it has turned out that it isn’t a blip. A lot of the new jobs have been part-time or self-employed but, even so, there has been a real increase in employment. Employment grew at the same time as the economy stagnated, which means that productivity necessarily fell, so the debate about what is happening to the labour market is sometimes called the “productivity puzzle”. But the real issue is more fundamental than that: why do we have more jobs when output has been pathetic?

There are some interesting debates – what has happened to the productive capacity of the economy? Is the structure of the UK economy shifting?

But what is noticeable about most of the debates in newspapers and amongst politicians is that they tend to take place in a British bubble. For the most part, you don’t see commentators considering whether our experience is unique. It has been hard even to answer such simple questions as whether British employment growth has been good, bad or indifferent when measured by international standards. As we’ve noted before, when British debates consider what is happening in Germany, they tend to focus on whether German experience validates one side or another in the perennial British argument about labour market flexibility.

That is why the TUC commissioned Amna Silim, of the Institute for Public Policy Research to look into other countries’ experience. And she discovered that ….

Well, to find out what she discovered you’ll have to come to our seminar Job Creation: lessons from abroad, at noon on 16 July.  Amna will present her findings and there’ll be a discussion about what this country can learn from other advanced economies. The panel for this discussion will include Paul Gregg, Professor of Economic and Social Policy at Bath University; Catelene Passchier, employment policy expert at FNV (the Dutch equivalent of the TUC) and Alexander Herzog-Stein, economist at the Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK) of the Hans Böckler Foundation, a German union-linked think tank.

Places are free but please help us to organise the event by registering in advance.