Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Uncomfortable Fact for Labour

Any fall in unemployment, no matter how miniscule, is a good thing and it must be welcomed. But the figures don't lie. The number of people claiming benefit is at an all time high, the number of economically inactive people is also at an all time high and unemployment is higher than when Labour came to power in 1997. Every Labour government in history has left office with unemployment higher than when it took office. Fact. And this one will be no different.

37 comments:

Sean Haffey said...

Iain

Could you give us a source her, please?

DespairingLiberal said...

It would be interesting to see the facts on this for every Tory and Labour administration since the war. Since unemployment has risen more or less inexorably since the 60s, I presume it just depends which period you look at, but most will show an increase. There was certainly a big decrease if you treat Blair's time as a "government" but if you take "Labour" and "Tory" periods, some if not most of the Tory ones would show an increase as well.

George said...

The figures would be higher but for the Job Centres sending thousands onto spurious training and retraining courses which allow the figures to be skewed.
And remember that a training course can be classed as one whereby the unemployed are made to sit in an office all day long, glued to a computer and made to apply for a minimum of 4/5 jobs a day. All that with no visible support, no actual training or learning, but grinding boredom and a strict regime.
This is what NuLab call re-training!!
This is NuLab in league with private companys.

joshuachambers said...

Talking down the economy! ;-)

forgelindin said...

In fairness, there are somewhat mitigating circumstances for this and other governments. For example, I overheard today that some newspapers are calling this a global recession.

Our unemployment relative to other European partners is the other side of the story; perhaps we have a lot to be thankful for, regardless of affiliation.

Michael Heaver said...

It'll be interesting to see what the Tories may do differently. I've heard very little so far.

miko said...

The decrease of 3,000 (and who believes it anyway?) represents a fall of 0.002%.

And to hear that dreadful woman Cooper - well,I can't listen anymore as I get so angry.

Not long now - in 12 weeks time,Brown will have been out of office for 5 whole days!

Jemimah said...

"Every Labour government in history has left office with unemployment higher than when it took office."

So the election is in the bag, then?

Tony said...

forgelindin said...
Our unemployment relative to other European partners is the other side of the story; perhaps we have a lot to be thankful for, regardless of affiliation.

Try telling this someone who has lost their job in the last 18 months and see what reaction you get!

Hythlodaeus said...

"The number of people claiming benefit is at an all time high..."

Do you have figures handy to back that up? It doesn't make much sense given that unemployment is still lower then during the 70s and 80s (unless of course, it's the result of a much wider benefits program now).

Irene said...

Those claiming job seekers allowance are not classed as unemployed apparently!

hesspartacus said...

The sooner Crash Gordon and Clarice Darling are unemployed, the better.

By the way, Iain, how do like my new election poster?

Libertarian said...

There are 5.9 million people of working age without a job in the UK ( source ONS).

Since 1997 the Labour government has created 2.1 million new jobs, all in the public sector and 1.4 million of those jobs has been filled by overseas workers. There has been a zero net gain in jobs in the private sector since 1997.

Keynesian policies do NOT work in the long run. Scrap payroll taxes ( Labour plan to INCREASE then by 5% on top of the already 13% by 2012) scrap the ludicrous and conflicting red tape over diversity and equality ( an oxymoron surely) and let's get people back to work in productive jobs.

Sean Haffey said...

Mmmm.

This is interesting.

Richard Manns said...

@ forgelindin

This isn't a global recession. It WAS a global recession.

But thanks to Our Dear Leader, it became a purely British affair when every major economy pulled out except for us.

Ewan said...

ONS Figures only go back to 1971, and every Conservative Government 'in history' (or rather, since figures have been available) has left unemplyment higher than when it entered office.

Of course there has only been one Conservative government during this time (the first started before we have ONS figures). When Thathcher came into power, unemployment was 5.3%. When she left, 7.3%.

The conservatives also have the pleasure have having the two highest rates of unemployment: 11.9% in 1984 and 10.6% in 1983. By contrast in 2005 Labour had the lowest unemployment since 1975 (4.8%).

Today's figure was 7.8%

Actual Facts.

Hawkeye said...

@Sean Haffey

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?ID=12

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8519647.stm

The Purpleline said...

Brown is useless as are Labour and left wing fruitcakes, more importantly he is very weak abroad. This is catastrophic for Great Britain, over the last few years, and we have seen many instances of countries taking liberties with us, namely Iran.

In the last week, we have had Israel allegedly stealing identities of Brits to conduct a political terrorist style assassination in Dubai and now more importantly Argentina has started hostile actions in the South Atlantic, introducing a blockade of our commercial interests in the Falklands, to neutralise our Oil industry searching for offshore Oil.

We must make a stand and send a signal, show one of the nuclear submarines leaving Faslane heading towards the South Atlantic. The estimates of Oil in the Falklands would bring reserves of the UK above Kuwait levels we must protect that at all costs.

With Obama in the White House, not a friend of Britain, this could be a defining moment of when Labour finally made us a third world country. We need to establish a conscripted Army, stop contributions to the EU as payment for protecting them in Afghanistan and send our unemployed, unemployable and immigrants who are keen to live of state benefits down to the Falkland Islands with speed to protect our interests. This move would see long –term unemployed miraculously get off their proverbial backsides finding work and see an exodus of immigrant parasites living of the state.

This time we must take out Argentina finally or otherwise always face the prospect of our interests being subjugated in the South Atlantic.

trevorsden said...

You say any fall in unemployment 'however minuscule' is to be welcomed --

But The times reports ....
"The number of people claiming unemployment benefit unexpectedly rose in January, it was disclosed this morning, raising fears that the UK’s economic recovery may be weaker-than-expected.

The claimant count rose by 23,500 during the month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, far below analysts’ expectations of a 10,000 fall.

The total claimant count increased to 1.64 million in January, the worst figure since April 1997, just before Labour came to power in May that year.

The number of people who have been out of work for longer than a year also rose, up by 37,000 in the three months to December to 663,000 - a 13-year high. "

So unemployment is up and significantly. these figures are very bad news. There seems to be some separate count - the statistics are so vague that we must wonder at their worth - held steady at 7.8 per cent, totalling 2.45 million.

But these are poor poor figures for the economy. And this .... 'The number of people classed as economically inactive reached a record high of 8.08 million, more than 21 per cent of the working age population.' .... is a truly shocking figure and gives a sense of the huge problem we face.

allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

While it would be churlish of me to deny the Labour Party's attempts to outdo the Tories in the incompetence stakes it's worth remembering the comparing figures now with 1997 is not like with like. Labour adopted the ILO definition of unemployment which is regarded as being more honest than the one they inherited.

And lets not forget that, under the Tories, we spent years on end with 3 million plus unemployed which was, apparently, a "price well worth paying".

Jimmy said...

"It'll be interesting to see what the Tories may do differently. I've heard very little so far."

It's a question of priorities. the fact that someone was rude to them on twitter is of far greater national importance. Apparently.

If you think your chances of being unemployed a greater under Labour than under the tories then you obviously crunch numbers for CCHQ.

Gallimaufry said...

@miko "The decrease of 3,000 (and who believes it anyway?) represents a fall of 0.002%."

Up to a point Lord Copper. Mental arithmetic gives a rough estimate of 0.125% because 2,460,000 / 3,000 (knock off the noughts both sides to make it simpler) is 820. A fall of 0.002% (two thousands of one percent so divide by 50,000) works out at about 49 people.

I bet I've made a mistake :)

forgelindin said...

@Richard Manns

We were in growth last quarter, it was on the news and everything. :D

I think the US still counts as a major economy though, and I don't think its accurate to say they are out of recession.

We also came into the recession after many major economies. I think there was some external influence on unemployment figures even though ours are not as bad as many of our european partners.

@ Tony

Try telling someone in Spain its so much worse in the UK!

Ewan said...

My first version had a few too many mistakes. Here's a corrected version:

---

Office of National Statistics Figures only go back to 1971, and every Conservative Government 'in history' (or rather, since figures have been available) has left unemployment higher than when it entered office.

Of course there has only been one Conservative government during this time (the first started before we have ONS figures). When Thatcher came into power, unemployment was 5.3%. When the Tories left power, 7.3%.

Today's figure was 7.8%

The conservatives also have the pleasure of having had the two highest rates of unemployment: 11.9% in 1984 and 10.6% in 1993. By contrast in 2005 Labour had the lowest unemployment since 1975 (4.8%).



Actual Facts.

Andrew said...

The Purple Line

Is your surname Palmerston by any chance?

longrun2 said...

Ewan has a special version of history that does not include Ramsay MacDonald, Attlee, Wilson, Churchill, Eden, MacMillan ...
Record unemployment was achieved by Ramsay MacDonald at 22% (source HoC Library)
Unemployment fell under most Conservative governments since unemployment insurance, and hence reliable records, was invented 1922-4, 1924-9, 1931 or 1935-45, 1951-64 but has risen under every Labour government 1924, 1929-31, 1945-51, 1964-70, 1974-79 and 1997-2010.
It more than quadrupled under Attlee 1945-51 but fell by more than three-quarters to less than 0.4m under the Conservatives from 1951 to 1964. The most dramatic fall was under the Conservative-led "National government" (coalition) 1931-45 that reduuced it by over 90%.
Despairing Liberal is partially right - most periods have shown an increase but that is because ALL Labour governments have increased unemployment whereas only two Conservative governments have done so.

Libertarian said...

@Ewan

You do of course realise that since 1993 the working population in terms of numbers has risen significantly so that your percent figures are just statporn, the actual number of human beings without a job is HIGHER now than it's ever been...FACT

FF said...

True on the last point. But the peak of unemployment under Labour (now) is the same as the bottom of unemployment achieved by the Tories (1997, when they left office). In other words the worst of Labour is the same as the best of the Conservatives.

On claimant count, you're plain wrong according to official statistics, which are the only kind we can go on. Claimant count was 10% in 1984-6; 5% in 2009. It'll be a bit higher now, but nothing like the 80's.

Economic participation has hardly budged overall in the past few years. Basically, a greater number economically active women with families compensate for more retired people and young people staying in education. There isn't really a party political point to make there.

FF said...

Libertarian, if you stick with actual numbers then Zimbabwe with 8 million unemployed plus one employed president and 10 000 employed thugs would seem to be better than say the USA with 12 million unemployed and 130 million in employment.

Percentages are the way to go ...

longrun2 said...

Hythlodaeus
The number of people claiming benefit is not the same as the "claimant count"
2.5m claiming disability benefit are unemployed - most of them would take a job if one was available - but are not included in the "claimant count". In the 1950s these were included in the figures for unemployment.
There are also more than 0.6m who have been unemployed for more than 6 months.
Gallimaufrey - are you confusing a change in the percentage who are unemployed of 0.002% with the percentage change in the numbers who are unemployed?

longrun2 said...

FF seems to be talking from ignorance.
The unemployment level was lower in the late-80s than 1997 or now.
People over pension age and children are not included in the calculation of the economic inactivity rate. Also current numbers of economically active are inflated relative to 1997 and earlier by classifying as employed many child-minders and other carers who were previously categorised as economically inactive.
The claimant count has been massaged (OK the Thatcher government also did so but to a far far smaller extent) so that no-one (except FF and, maybe, Alastair Campbell)accepts it as a measure of unemployment. The main fudge is those who can claim the slightly more generous disability benefit, followed by the exclusion of those who have been unemployed for more than six months and have even modest savings and those who are on "training schemes" (the latter used to be included).
A smaller distortion is caused by categorising as employed or self-employed a substantial number of people who work a handful of hours per week in order to win "Working Tax Credits" that far exceed their earnings.
So FF and allnottinghambasearebelongtous may compare oranges with pears to claim unemployment was higher in 1986 (NOT years on end) at just over 3 million compared to over 5 million today, but it just ain't so.

FF said...

longrun2, picking up on a couple of your points:

People over pension age and children are not included in the calculation of the economic inactivity rate.

The headline figure from the Office for National Statistics includes everyone over the age of 16. They do break it down by age group and sex so you can come up with a different definition if you like (excluding pensioners would slightly flatter the figures for the Labour Government). My point though was that demographic changes (more pensioners, more students and fewer women at home) has affected this figure more than the economic situation in recent years.

no-one (except FF and, maybe, Alastair Campbell) accepts [claimant count] as a measure of unemployment.

I didn't say it was. I was simply responding to Iain's assertion that the number of people claiming benefit is at an all time high. Bearing in mind this post is about unemployment and in the absence of clarification or indeed of any other reliable figures that I can find, I assumed this benefit to be claimant allowance.

claim unemployment was higher in 1986 (NOT years on end) at just over 3 million compared to over 5 million today, but it just ain't so.

I accept you can make figures say what you want them to say but you would have to be particularly creative to suggest unemployment now is at anything like the levels of the mid 1980's. It's not backed up either by international comparisons such as those done by the OECD.

I realise that a response to Iain's challenging, but I suggest selective, statistics might seem to put me into Labour's camp. In the interest of balance I should also point out that the Conservatives were the ones that genuinely converted a bad situation into a good one during the 1990's. To be charitable to Labour, you could say they built on the previous government success when unemployment fell further at the end of the decade. Equally, the incoming Conservative government would be justified in blaming the previous regime for some of the increase in unemployment that we can expect to see at the start of their government.

Also, the previous Conservative government was a mixed bag. The economic situation under Margaret Thatcher was dire - unemployment levels have never been so high in recent times. But the much maligned John Major actually did a good job. Not perhaps the most fashionable observation to make on this forum.

viator said...

“...The economic situation under Margaret Thatcher was dire..."

Nuts.
When Thatcher left office in 1990 the UK's unemployment was the lowest of any major European economy, standing at 5.9% (source ILO), while France's was at 8.9%, Germany (FDRep.) on 7%; Italy on 11% and Spain on 16.3%.
(Note that both France and Spain had socialist governments, the former having been under Mitterand's presidency for 9 years.)

Unemployment rose strongly in almost all western economies throughout the 70s and most of the 80s, more than doubling under Labour from 1974-79. Britain (under Thatcher) and the USA (Reagan) were the most successful major economies in tackling the problem and getting people back into real work. In 1997 Britain had the second lowest unemployment of any EU nation.

Note: All stats from website of the ILO (“Labour adopted the ILO definition of unemployment which is regarded as being more honest than the one they inherited... ”. )

FF said...

viator, unemployment briefly dipped in 1990 following Nigel Lawson's famous boom. The ILO figure I have for 1990 is 6.9%. Things were heading rapidly in the wrong direction however: 8.5% in 1991, 9.9% in 1992 before topping out at 10.4%.

John Major's government did sustainably reduce unemployment in the 1990's, though. I guess Ken Clarke is the man to thank for that.

viator said...

The 5.9% figure is from ILO UK unemployed – Table 3a insurance records. But even with the BA survey (your source) the picture in Britain in 1990 was noticeably healthier than that of the Europeans.

“Lawson boom”. Your emphasis is in the wrong place – it was ERM membership that pushed the rate up again (and it's pretty telling that the one economic policy that the Tories got wrong in 18 years was the one that Labour supported); once we left, the rate fell steadily back – after a year's lag – to the Thatcherite level of 7.1% in 1997.

The French weren't so lucky – after 14 years of socialism (admiring stares from the Fabians) and two years of 'Le Croc' they got to 12.3% in 1997.

Jimmy said...

"they got to 12.3% in 1997."

The right won the 93 election.

longrun2 said...

FF
Firstly I said the "economic inactivity rate" which ONS define as "the proportion of the population of working age (16 to 64 for men and 16 to 59 for women) who are economically inactive", to avoid the distortion caused by the inclusion of pensioners in the denominator of the "economic activity rate". I wanted to use a fair comparison because I was well aware of the distortion to the latter caused by demographic changes and did not want to mislead. The honest figures are good enough for me.
More importantly, you cannot claim Incapacity* Benefit or the new Employment and Support Allowance unless you are unemployed.
So the numbers claiming benefit and the numbers unemployed do (whether you like it or not and whether or not someone uses a "Headline figure" for a press release that excludes them) include these. Reality is more important than a press release.
[New Labour has attempted to reduce the numbers on Incapacity Benefit by excluding all those with an occupational or personal pension above a modest level, the numbers in the "Claimant Count" by excluding all those unemployed for more than six months with modest savings and the homeless]
The number on IB in the bleak 1980s was under/around (depending on year) 1 million. It is now over 2.6 million.
I do not have to be "particularly creative" - I just have to look at the numbers 3+1=4, 2.5+2.6=5.1!
And that is despite the current numbers being understated compared to previous ones (eg excluding those on "training courses").
Iain did not say the greatest ever number on the claimant count, he said "The number of people claiming benefit is at an all time high". The DWP states (see ONS website) that there are 5.9 million working age benefit claimants. That includes a number of single parents and some recipients of the Disability Living Allowance who are not considered "unemployed" because they are unable to work. There are also 12.6 million over pension age receiving pensions and/or benefits but I, and I assume Iain, do not includes these in comments on unemployment.
* Apologies for referring to it as "Disability Benefit" in earlier post.