The claim

“If you take what happens with JobCentre Plus, we take in 90,000 vacancies a week even now during diffcult times economically.  So there’s a real opportunity still for each individual…”

Employment minister Chris Grayling, ITV’s Daybreak, 16 November 2011

Cathy Newman checks it out

Youth unemployment is now at a record high, and the total number of jobless across the country has risen to 2.62m.

It’s some way off the Thatcher era (when unemployment peaked at 3m), but there’s no doubt Tory ministers are anxious that Britain’s current economic woes will remind people of the last time their party was in power.

Still, the employment minister Chris Grayling appeared to have found reasons for optimism today.

He remarked that there were 90,000 vacancies at job centres every week. Sounds good? Time for the FactCheck team to investigate just what’s on offer.


The analysis

The DWP plays rather fast and loose with these figures – on Monday we FactChecked their average of 10,000 job ads every working day, last week it was 15,000 and today Mr Grayling claimed it was 90,000 a week.

Our graphic, below, relies on the only official figures which are measured monthly and are issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Crunching the official stats, FactCheck found the actual average was 78,000 jobs a week.

What’s more, nearly a third of the jobs advertised in October were in so-called “elementary occupations”, such as street cleaning and shelf stacking. And there were three times as many jobseekers as there were available jobs – with 423,030 people gunning for 126,452 jobs.

Meanwhile, there’s much more competition – but far fewer roles – in something like secretarial work. In October, 150,850 people were searching for secretarial work  – but there were only 19,719 jobs advertised. That’s a ratio of 7.6 people to every job.

If you are searching for a job in sales and retail, it’s not much better – there are five times as many people as available jobs.

Overall in October there were 4.6 jobseekers for every jobcentre vacancy – almost double 2.5 during the 2008 financial crisis.  In the last year, just under 75 per cent of new vacancies have been for full-time jobs, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Cathy Newman’s verdict

Set aside the exaggeration that there are 90,000 vacancies a week, when it’s more like 78,000, and a third of these jobs are “elementary occupations”.   Shelf stacking or bin collecting might not have you rushing down the job centre with quite the alacrity ministers might have hoped.

What’s equally striking is just how much competition there is for white collar work in things like admin. Overall, there are twice as many people going for every Jobcentre post now as during the 2008 financial crisis.

That should leave no one in any doubt about the depth of the economic gloom that now surrounds us.

No wonder Chris Grayling tried to dodge responsibility by blaming the eurozone crisis today. But as we found out in our previous FactCheck, unemployment began to rise well before Greece and Italy got into trouble.

The analysis by Emma Thelwell