A Reduction in Unemployment
In the last count according to the ONS, unemployment has come down by 45000 to about 2.63 million or 8.2% of the available workforce. This should be contrasted with much higher rates of joblessness in such countries as Spain or Greece. Nobody can claim success for this, certainly not the current government who have done very little to help the long term unemployed.
The figures also demonstrate how the number of persons in part time roles has hit a new record of almost 8 million people. This reflects the fact that these people are just unable to find a full time permanent role. The latest EU Directive on agency workers has done little to halt this trend and firms are determined to find ways around it. There is more evidence now that a company can fill a vacancy either internally or even applying its own website rather than going through a recruitment consultant. On a local level, any firm only needs to advertise in a regional paper for staff and be deluged by applications.
Those becoming self-employed have also attained a new record. This is down not just to some starting their own company in response to redundancy but also a lifestyle choice. Wage levels are also barely increasing across many sectors and this has helped to stabilise the labour market. But there still exists widespread concern over the ongoing health of the UK economy and the latest revelation that the UK has gone into a double dip recession will not help business confidence. Firms do need a firm signal that the macro-economic outlook will improve rather than deteriorate further.
Right now, the government needs to provide proper assistance to those unemployed for 12 months or more instead of the usual supercilious cobblers. This includes re-training or what else is necessary to get these persons back into productive work. By doing so, the economy would benefit in the short and medium term as tax receipts improve and people feel more confident about spending money. Tragically the coalition government seems to be more concerned with headlines than working out a sustainable plan for jobs.
Like it or lump it, we are all where we are at present and this has to be recognised by everyone concerned, including the trade unions. We may all resent it but times are hard and will be for a while to come. Households are being squeezed like never before and it is no good for the Chancellor to expect a upturn overnight in consumer spending. He need not kid himself either that engineering another property boom will solve the problem. Just look back to the banking crisis and the excesses of lending, notably in the sub prime mortgage market.
Mark Sandford - Permission granted to freely distribute this article for non-commercial purposes if attributed to Mark Sandford, unedited and copied in full, including this notice.
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