The claim

“There are half a million more private sector jobs compared with the time of the last election”

David Cameron, Prime Minister’s Questions, 19 October 2011

Cathy Newman checks it out

It’s very strange. Most politicians reckon that once bitten by FactCheck, twice shy. Not so the PM. We’ve caught him out on his boast on private sector jobs before but today he was at it again.

He claimed half a million more private sector jobs were created since the election. He’s wrong, and here’s why.

The analysis

The Office for National Statistics only produces figures on a quarterly basis. And the election fell in May, bang in the middle of the second quarter (April-June 2010).

The latest set of ONS stats show that in the year to the end of June, only 264,000 private sector jobs were created.

So to make his sums add up, David Cameron would need to prove that 236,000 more jobs were landed by people in May and June.

Provisional monthly figures unearthed by FactCheck however show that although an extra 68,000 jobs were added in May, that increase was totally wiped out by the loss of 89,000 jobs in June. And many more jobs – 129,000 – were created in April , while Labour was still in power.

These are “experimental” labour force figures that the ONS produces, but doesn’t put its name to.

Number 10 told FactCheck that it was “standard procedure” to quote the nearest set of quarterly statistics to the general election.

(For further analysis read our previous FactChecks: Cameron slips up on employment figures and Private sector jobs hit by growing pains)

Cathy Newman’s verdict

Since FactCheck first pointed out David Cameron had  slipped up on private sector job figures, he’s repeated the claim at least three more times.

Following our blog last month, the Labour leader Ed Miliband wrote to him demanding he return to the Commons to correct himself.

He’s so far declined, and today he compounded the error. Why does any of this matter?

Well, the coalition government has long claimed that private sector jobs growth would “more than offset” the number of public sector jobs being cut.

So far, the private sector is only just offsetting the losses. In the year to the end of June 240,000 public sector jobs were lost, and, as we’ve seen, only 264,000 private sector jobs created.

Analysis by Emma Thelwell

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