Unions welcome overall jobless fall, but condemn continuing fall in value of wages for those people in full- or part-time work

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The number of people out of work has fallen, by 65,000 to 2.58million.

However, official statistics also show a rise in the number of people forced to work beyond the normal retirement age as well as a continuing fall in the value of wages for those people in full- or part-time work.

Young people are not sharing in any wider improvement across the jobs market.

The number of 18-24 year-olds out of work for between 6 and 12 months has increased by 9,000 to 181,000 while the number out of work for more than a year has increased by 9,000 to 240,000.

The number of full-time workers increased by 133,000 to reach 21.37m and the number of part-time workers increased by 48,000 to reach 7.99m.

However, the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance has risen, while people’s wages have continued to fall in real terms (see graph, below).

Analysts warn that the continuing squeeze on living standards is likely to undermine the better news on overall employment in the economy.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The government must prioritise tackling long-term youth unemployment before any more careers are wrecked before they barely get off the ground.

“And while more people are in work, they are still getting poorer in real terms in wages grow at less than half the rate of inflation.

“Jobs growth needs to be accompanied by stronger wage growth if consumer spending is to help drive our economic recovery.”

A rising claimant count while unemployment is falling may be an indication that a growing number of people are simply leaving the labour market altogether.

The continuing growth in self-employment may also indicate overall demand for labour is falling across the UK – a danger sign which could mean the trend of falling unemployment over the last three months could be halted if the economy slows any further.

Unite’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “Today’s figures for the long-term unemployed show the fate that awaits Remploy workers as they struggle to find work once the Remploy factories are closed by this government.

“It is madness for the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith to think that there is work readily available for those disabled workers he is throwing onto the dole queue because of his cruel policies.

“The number of long-term unemployed is a scandal. This situation is only going to be made worse by the 1,700 Remploy workers being made redundant by the end of the year in the first tranche of factory closures.

“Those with disabilities have greater difficulties in finding work than others in the workforce.

Some economists believe part of the increase in employment is down to a temporary ‘Olympics boost’, but UNISON warns against a ‘mirage’ of relative prosperity for people over the period of the games.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “Under the coalition’s no-hope economic plan, hundreds of thousands more public sector jobs are due to be axed.

“There is no demand in our economy to fuel growth – consumer confidence is low, and people do not have enough cash to spend in their local shops and businesses.

“The government has to take evasive action. We need an alternative plan for sustainable jobs and economic growth, to put the country back on the road to recovery.”

The number of people still in work beyond the age of 65 increased by 52,000 on the quarter to reach 929,000, which the ONS says is the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

The figures also show 13.5% of males now work part-time, the highest level since records began and up from 6.9% in 1992.

Today’s figures come as GDP figures for the Scottish economy show it has entered a technical double dip recession.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “The Coalition’s investment plan announced today represents progress and at least acknowledgement of the fact that the private sector will not deliver this investment of their own accord in current circumstances.

“However, it is massively insufficient given the scale of continuing economic and labour market challenges”.

The GMB says today’s figures show the UK is ‘caught in the mire of a double-dip recession.’

General secretary Paul Kenny said: The government stalled the recovery that was underway using the dogma that you could deflate your way to growth. This was total nonsense then and it is nonsense today.

“it is time for a proper U-turn to get back on course.”


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