More working: but for less

The latest ONS labour market statistics for Q4 of 2012 show little change. Unemployment has fallen marginally – a drop of 14000 using the Labour Force Survey method and down 12,500 from December 2012 – using the claimant count.

The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.5%. There were 29.73 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 154,000 on July to September 2012 and up 584,000 on a year earlier. This is the highest ever figure.

Despite a rise of 394,000, the number of people working full-time has not reached the level achieved before the 2008-09 recession – there is also an increase of 190,000 in the number of people working part-time, with 27% of all workers now part-time (over 8 million) of which 1.4 million wanted a full-time job.

As argued in The Great Reversal as well as being a part-time economy, the UK is also a low-pay economy, with the 1.4% increase in wages being well below the rate of inflation. In otherwords more people are working; but for less.

As also argued, young people continue to be excluded from the labour market with youth unemployment up by 9000 and the rate of unemployment for 18-24 year olds not in full-time education standing at 15%, twice that for the population as a whole –and also showing a small increase. Of over 1.8 million full-time students in this age group, surprisingly, only about 3 out of 10 are recorded as being in some kind of paid employment. Over 4 out of 10 18-24 year olds (at least officially) do not work.

Finally, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has condemned the Government’s Work Programme –the failings of which are discussed in The Great Reversal –as ‘extremely poor’ with the committee chair Margaret Hodge claiming the programme’s performance was worse than the Government’s own expectations of the number of people who would have found work if the scheme did not exist!

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