Analysis suggests adding marginal and under-employed workers to official figures more than doubles the government’s jobless rate

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Analysis by the TUC suggests the scale of the UK jobs crisis is more than double what government figures indicate.

By using an American measure of unemployment – which includes unemployed, discouraged, marginally attached and under-employed workers – the TUC says unemployment in the UK stands at 6.3 million, which is higher than any point since the early 1990s.

The TUC is calling on the government to acknowledge the scale of the jobs crisis, rather than repeat what it describes as the ill-informed claim that there are plenty of jobs available.

The UK has two common measures of joblessness – ILO unemployment (currently 2.68 million) and the claimant count (1.6 million).

The US uses six different measures of joblessness, which incorporate long-term unemployment, recent job losses, redundancies and under-employment, such as working part-time because full-time work is not  available.

By using official UK government data, the TUC 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 more than 6.3 million.

While ILO unemployment was higher in the early 1990s – it peaked at 3.02 million in January 1993 – the rate of under-employment is higher today (1.3 million) than at any point since April 1993, when it stood at 802,000.

The number of economically inactive or discouraged people who want work in the UK is broadly the same today (2.34 million) as it was in April 1993 (2.35 million) having peaked at 2.59 million in December 1996.

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.

The TUC says record levels of under-employment today show the UK jobs crisis is far worse than the government’s headline figures suggest and that without government stimulus, growth will continue to falter and cause long-term damage to the UK economy.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber (pictured) said: “The headline unemployment figures are bad enough, but the true scale of joblessness is even worse. 

“Tackling this crisis should be the government’s number one priority.

“Our jobs crisis is not confined to those out of work. Nearly two million people are being forced to take low-paid, insecure, short hours jobs because of the lack of proper full-time employment. This means people are taking home much less pay, which is putting a real strain of family budgets.

“When ministers say there are plenty of jobs out there, they are ignoring the sheer numbers of people looking for work, as well as the suitability and location of the jobs available. Rather than seek to blame unemployed people for being out of work, the government should start helping them by putting proper resources into employment schemes.

“Unless we get people back into decent jobs and wages growing in line with prices again we will not secure a sustainable economic recovery nor get the deficit down.”


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