Labour Market Statistics headlines

From last weeks’ Labour Market Statistics

• Between August and October 2014 there were 1.96 million unemployed people.
• This was 63,000 fewer than the previous quarter, the smallest quarterly fall since July to September 2013.
• Unemployment has fallen by 455,000 compared to a year ago.
• The unemployment rate was 6.0%. This is a fall from 6.2% on the previous quarter and a fall from 7.4% a year ago.

Total employment
• Between August and October 2014 there were 30.80 million people in work.
• This was 115,000 more than for May to July 2014 and 588,000 more than for a year earlier.

Claimant count
• In November 2014 there were 900,100 people claiming JSA.
• This is a fall of 26,900 on the previous month and a fall of 368,000 on the previous year.

Youth unemployment
• This currently stands at 754,000.
• The youth unemployment rate is 16.6% – this was unchanged from May to July 2014 and down from 20.7% for a year earlier

Women’s unemployment
• This currently stands at 866,000
• This is a fall of 31,000 on the quarter and a fall of 192,000 on the year

Part-time workers who can’t find a full time job
• This currently stands at 1.139 million.
• This is a fall of 21,000 on the quarter and a fall of 148,000 on the year.

• Comparing August to October 2014 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 1.4% including bonuses and by 1.6% excluding bonuses.
• Looking just at the single month change (i.e. October 2013 to October 2014) total pay (including bonuses) grew by 1.8% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) grew by 1.8% as well.

Long-term ILO unemployment (12 months +)
• This currently stands at 684,000
• This is a fall of 40,000 on the quarter and a fall of 191,000 on the year.

Long-term ILO unemployment (24 months +)
• This currently stands at 376,000
• This is a fall of 23,000 on the quarter and a fall of 70,000 on the year.

Long-term youth unemployment (ILO, 12 months +)
• This currently stands at 213,000
• This is a rise of 15,000 on the quarter but a fall of 59,000 on the year

Long-term claimant count (24 months +)
• This currently stands at 149,400
• This is a fall of 4,000 on the month and a fall of 49,900 on the year.

Long-term youth claimant count (12 months +)
• This currently stands at 31,400
• This is a fall of 2,100 on the year and a fall of 29,500 on the year.
• Since May 2010 this figure has increased by 11%.

Rhetoric and reality: stop reading this rubbish and find a better blog

In between the bits about food A Girl Called Jack is the finest political read in Southend. Unlike my poor prose about rather dry subjects, Ms Monroe manages an authenticity that this prole struggles to come close to.

It is quite a journey. I recommend starting at the beginning (Boycott Workfare: National Day Of Action 3rd March 2012) and working your way through every last syllable. I was rather slow on the uptake, it was two days before I stumbled upon this genius called Jack, and her Voting: Why Should I Bother? started a journey towards friendship. Watch out – she will be a Labour councillor in Southend at some point.

Sometimes her writing makes me angry, angry at the injustices that are meted out somewhat indiscriminately. Her latest painful epistle demonstrates how easy it is to kick those already down. I know what unemployment looks like – my father never worked again from when I was six (and he was 52). I lived through the poverty and shame, literally withstood his frustration, a victim too.

It is not easy being a staunch defender of the dispossessed, disadvantaged, poor, immigrant, addicted, criminal, deviant; many of my friends think I enjoy an argument for the sake of it. It is a lot harder belonging to one of these categories.

Prejudices are even harder to overcome when the climate of fear is encouraged, scapegoats and monsters dreamed up in the media, and everyone has a story about how the unemployed/immigrant/criminal are living the life of Reilly whilst the rest of us drudges are shackled to taxes that support these seemingly indolent unwanted.

Where is the Big Society? I am staring at presentations showing that more cuts are to come, thinking about those desperately in need of support that are going to see this greatly reduced, and feeling largely impotent. And whilst my colleagues are haggling over who gets what scrutiny committee my friend loses her job.

Read Jacks’ blog and get angry. There has got to be a better way of running this world – help me find it.

In memorium: Ambition

In attempting to boil down my socialism to its basics I describe it as a belief in fairness and equality. Doubtless my Conservative friends would ascribe similar characteristics to their beliefs, and nuance it with the conflict between the free market and a command economy, between a large state and provision supplied by the private sector. Such distinctions between the two important political arguments have become blurred. The old clause four was not scrapped just to make the party look modern; a democratic socialist party was never going to go for the common ownership of production, distribution, and exchange.

The fairness and equality agenda lays behind the anti-discrimination legislation, women and gay rights, the attack on the democratic deficit. It also was the driver behind the push for full employment and the opening up of education to a wider audience. The target of 50% attending university was as much about participation as it was about equipping our young for the challenges of the new century.

The landscape for young people today looks pretty grim. Opportunities in further education are vastly better than during the 1970s when I was at school, but the prospect of the horrendous debt that will accompany it will be a millstone. I wonder how mortgage applications will be treated for those saddled with repaying tuition fees and other costs once graduation has been achieved. That house prices are something like eleven times the average wage makes the dream of home ownership problematical at best.

The unavailability of work is worse. I can recall a time when the total jobless at a million was viewed as a national disaster; now that number has been matched just by the young. And whilst it may be just a statistic for the rich and cossetted, the reality is that it affects us all. The summer riots are but one by-product; watch crime figures, drug dependency and suicide rates climb unless that Plan B is unveiled.

What young people are witnessing is, as Johnny Rotten so poetically put, “no future”. The party of aspiration may still make being super-rich even more attractive, but for many ordinary people the blank canvass that is the future has no prospect of paint being applied. If equality means anything it means turning aspiration into ambition.

Without full employment and affordable and accessible education there is no prospect for ambition to grow. Eighteen months in and this Conservative Government has already trashed the lives of many young people. The next Labour Government will have much to repair, although I fear that much like the 1980s we will be faced with a lost generation.

Dismal unemployment news for Southend, and who is to blame?

Many of us are nervously eyeing the economic numbers, worried about jobs, mortgages and savings. Recent figures showing more claiming unemployment benefits will not calm.

As a socialist I have a somewhat mixed attitude to what is happening. I argue that the coalition government’s policies are wrong, yet hope that somehow George Osborne manages to pull off a recovery. I take no joy from seeing the jobless numbers rise, inflation on the up, house prices dropping, and confidence sapping. Is there a plan for growth? I have seen none.

The Government certainly inherited a troubled economy. Everyone is aware of what Labour had to do to tackle instability in the financial world, and Alistair Darling deserves praise for preventing a recession turning into a depression. We returned to growth at the beginning of 2010, yet this has stalled and our economy is now becalmed.

So, fifteen months into this government’s term we see the Tories giving us much pain, and nothing in the way of gain. As living standards drop inflation makes us all now watch the pennies. None but the richest can avoid cohabiting with prudence.

Southend-on-Sea has its claimant numbers outstripping the rest of Essex. Getting a job here is harder than in the rest of the county, and tougher than in much of the rest of the country. Is this the legacy of a town, county and country run by Conservatives?

Unemployment claimant data for Essex

Below are the latest unemployment benefit claimant figures for Essex, broken down by constituency. Six are above the England average with Rochford and Southend East having the dubious distinction of being tops.

Constituency Male Male % Women Women, % TOTAL TOTAL, %
Rochford and Southend East 2,341 7.9 1,056 3.5 3,397 5.7
Thurrock 2,227 6.2 1,425 3.9 3,652 5.1
Clacton 1,639 6.7 788 3.1 2,427 4.8
Harlow 1,595 5.6 950 3.2 2,545 4.4
South Basildon and East Thurrock 1,556 5.0 918 2.8 2,474 3.9
Basildon and Billericay 1,325 4.9 821 2.9 2,146 3.8
Southend West 1,241 4.7 665 2.5 1,906 3.6
Colchester 1,649 4.2 951 2.5 2,600 3.3
Chelmsford 1,365 3.9 740 2.2 2,105 3.1
Epping Forest 1,032 3.5 780 2.5 1,812 3.0
Castle Point 957 3.5 563 2.0 1,520 2.7
Braintree 1,010 3.3 592 1.9 1,602 2.6
Witham 890 3.1 507 1.8 1,397 2.4
Harwich and North Essex 941 3.0 479 1.6 1,420 2.3
Maldon 754 2.6 462 1.6 1,216 2.1
Brentwood and Ongar 697 2.4 468 1.6 1,165 2.0
Rayleigh and Wickford 708 2.3 455 1.5 1,163 1.9
Saffron Walden 689 2.3 414 1.4 1,103 1.8
England 833,270 4.9 426,214 2.5 1,259,484 3.7

The full set of data can be found here –

Unemployment is not a price worth paying

The table below illustrates just one way in which tables troubled economic times are in stark contrast to recessions we have witnessed previously. Without doubt pain is being felt in some quarters, but it could have been a lot worse. Not only have the Conservative Party got all the economic calls wrong, their record shows that they do not intervene to stem the loss of jobs. For them, unemployment is “a price worth paying”. This is not true for Labour or for me.

Unemployment peaks in previous recessions
1980’s 1990’s Now (2009)
ILO unemployment Level (‘000s) 3,278 (Mar-May 84) 3,025 (Feb-Apr 93) 2,458 (Sep-Nov)
Rate 11.9% 10.7% 7.8%
Claimant count Level (‘000s) 3,090 (Jul 86) 2,960 (Dec 92) 1,606 (Dec)

• Unemployment has risen to 7.8% but remains much lower than 1980s (11.9%) and 1990s (10.6%) despite a relatively steep fall in output in the current recession.
• Other countries have seen much steeper rises in unemployment in than the UK. At 7.8% our unemployment rate is lower than the US 10.1%, France, 9.9% Canada, 8.5% and the Euro Area as a whole (9.9%)

Unemployment, warring Tories, and carnage

My latest press release can be found here (Figures show local unemployment was much higher in the previous recession) – and here. The latest drop in unemployment is good news, and in stark contrast to the dark days of the last Conservative administration.

Luke Akehurst has written about The dark side of South Essex politics – and the Canvey Beat has written about Luke’s post (Bob Looks To Professional PR Consultant To Repair His Tarnished Image).

This was pointed out to me a few days back (carnage-on-Sea) – just forgot to write about it. The ruling administration on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has an awful record when it comes to the environment, and their latest bit of vandalism does nothing to improve this.

Six million victims

My latest LabourList posting can be read here: