16 Nov 2011

Bad news: Grim jobs data. Worse news: Euro effect yet to come

A grim set of unemployment numbers for Britain today. It’s difficult to pin this on the eurozone crisis as the employment minister did in the first sentence of his response. The sad fact is that the impact of the euro crisis is likely to be seen on top of these already bad numbers.

Youth unemployment at 1.02 million is a terrible headline figure for any government to face. The DWP points out that 289,000 of this number are actually in full-time employment.  Another way to look at it is that 217,000 of the unlucky million are 16 and 17 year olds.

More generally there has been a significant bump on the wider International Labour Organisation measure of unemployment to 2.62 million, up 178,000 on the year. 111,000 public sector jobs have been lost (not a great deal to do with the euro, I’d wager), to not be replaced by an extra 41,000 private sector jobs. It is this sluggish private sector job creation that might be partially blamed on the euro crisis.

Other trends are emerging. In the early part of this slowdown, part-time jobs were booming instead of full-time. Since then, more part-time jobs (118,000) have been lost than full-time (80,000). That part-time boom is well and truly over.

The ONS says not to read too much into the foreign worker debate from its figures. However it is notable that the pattern of employment nationality continues under this government. The number of UK nationals in employment was down 280,000. There were 147,000 more non-UK nationals in employment in the same time period.

And there was little respite even for those lucky enough to have a job.  the fortunate employed might want to look at the historic UK real wage crunch they are suffering, via Reuters’ @scottybarber: UK inflation v earnings growth chart. Whole economy average earnings are just 1.7 per cent versus 5 per cent+ inflation

There is a terrific academic argument about whether unemployment is a “lagging indicator”. That is, that it reflects, developments in the economy 3-6 months ago. In this case it has been pretty clear that these figures reflect existing weakness, not a crisis that exploded in July/August.

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