Monday, 7 January 2013

Beware politicians bearing stats

The coalition government’s mid-term review, published earlier this afternoon, states that ‘since we came to office more than 1 million jobs have been created in the private sector.’ This claim is somewhat misleading. Adjusting for changes to statistical classification the correct figure is 900,000. Moreover, taking account of a corresponding increase in the size of the workforce, the assertion that the labour market has been performing better since May 2010 is also misleading. In fact, both the employment rate and the unemployment rate are unchanged, female unemployment, youth unemployment and long-term unemployment are higher, real wages have fallen, and workers are producing less per hour worked.

Official data available from the Office for National Statistics show that since the quarter May-July 2010 (the first in which the coalition government was in office):

The total number of people in work has increased by around 500,000 (900,000 more working in the private sector, 400,000 fewer working in the public sector).

The employment rate (proportion of people in work) is unchanged at 58.5% - still 1.8 percentage points below the pre-2008 recession peak.

The unemployment rate is unchanged at 7.8% - still 2.6 percentage points above the pre-2008 recession low.

 The proportion of unemployed people who are long term unemployed has increased from 32.3% to 36.0%.

The male unemployment rate has fallen from 8.6% to 8.3%.

 The female unemployment rate has increased from 7.0% to 7.3%.

 The youth unemployment rate has increased from 19.5% to 20.3%.

 The average weekly wage is 2.7% lower in real terms.

 The amount of goods and services produced per hour worked has fallen by 1.28%.    

A fair mid-term assessment of the coalition’s jobs record is that the labour market has not weakened dramatically despite fiscal austerity and economic stagnation. But while ministers can take some comfort from this relatively benign outcome it should not be overplayed as a success story.


  1. I find your posts the most informative I've seen on the subject of jobs.

    One thing I queried with a local MP today when he'd asserted 1 million new private sector jobs on his blog - weren't 200k of these new jobs reclassified university staff?

    1. Thanks Gordon

      It was 196,000 FE and 6th form college staff. Cheers, John

  2. I have read your article, it is very informative and helpful for me.I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. Thanks for posting it..

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