Unemployment is now higher than it was at the worst point of the recession and odds are shortening that it will match Thatcher’s three million in the next year. The latest figures, from the January Labour Market Statistics, are for the three months to the end of November 2011 and show the following:
Overall unemployment increased by 118,000 (1,300 a day) to 2.68 million, giving an unemployment rate of 8.4% – the highest since John Major was Prime Minister 17 years ago.
The number unemployed for over a year was 857,000 and the number unemployed for over two years was 424,000.
Youth unemployment continued to rise, with an increase of 52,000 to 1.04 million, making the unemployed rate for 16-24 year olds 22.3%.
The number of unemployed people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose, although by a more modest 1,200, to 1.6 million, giving a claimant count of 5%.
The inactivity rate (16-64 year olds who are not working but are not included in the unemployment figures) fell slightly to 23.1% but that still leaves 9.29 million people, including home makers, long term sick, early retirees and those who have simply given up trying to find work, in this category.
The number of people in part time employment rose to 7.86 million, and the number working part–time because they couldn’t find a full-time job rose to 1.31 million, the highest figure for 17 years.
The number of self-employed people also rose, to a record 4.14 million, as more people are forced to go self-employed after failing to find a job or because employers are increasingly changing employees’ contracts to self-employed, so they can get out of paying the minimum wage, statutory holidays, sick pay and NI contributions.
The word “rose” features a lot in this article but there’s nothing rosy about the picture it paints on unemployment and under-employment in Britain today. And all the signs are that things are going to get a lot worse.
Richard Lynch is a Dudden Hill resident. He is a retired Unite the Union official and currently conducts voluntary work on employment rights for the Brent Community Law Centre. He also acts as an accompanying representative for the GMB union.