It is now four years since the worst global recession for over 70 years began to impact on UK jobs – and working people are still paying a high price for it and for the stagnation which has followed it. During those four years:
- Unemployment increased by over a million, from 1.61 million to 2.67 million, and is still increasing.
- 2.68 million people, 10% of those employed at the start of the recession, were made redundant.
- Underemployment doubled, with the number of people in part-time jobs because they couldn’t find full-time employment rising from 670,000 to a record 1.34 million.
- Unemployed people made 14 million claims and repeat claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance and received JSA payments which were worth a mere 10% of average full-time earnings.
But it was not just the unemployed and underemployed who lost out, as a recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed:
- Two thirds of those who returned to employment after being made redundant found that their pay, on average, was 28% lower than before, and lower still for those who couldn’t find work on the same hours as before.
- Those who managed to keep their jobs suffered as well because the recession and unemployment resulted in lower pay increases or none at all, and left the average worker £3,000 a year worse off than if pay had increased at pre-recession levels.
- The cost to employers of making 2.68 million people redundant varied from sector to sector but is estimated to have cost a total of £28.6 billion.
- And the cost to the economy, in terms of lost output, is estimated to have been at least £87 billion (6% of GDP) and possibly as high as £135 billion (10% of GDP).
All of this shows that it is not just the unemployed who have been paying a high price for the recession in jobs but people in work, many employers and the economy as well. And unless action is taken to get the economy growing again, something which did not feature in the recent budget, we will continue to pay a high price for probably years to come.
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.