Figures have been released today which claim to show that the number of people unemployed in the UK has fallen and show a jobless rate of 7.8% with total unemployment standing at 2.45 million for the three months to January. So down 33,000 on the figure for the previous three months.
However a quick look at the ONS data reveals the smoke and mirrors. The number of people in work actually fell in the quarter, by 54,000 to 28.86 million. So how is it that both the number of people in work and the number of people out of work fell, did I miss a plague, a famine, a third world war? For only a massive reduction in the population could cause this surely.
Well no actually the ONS has the answer "unemployment and employment were both falling because of a rising number of people being classed as economically inactive. This category includes students and those on long-term sick leave, as well as those who have stopped looking for a job."
Ah, so that's it, unemployment has fallen because people have stopped looking for a job. FFS!
Long-term unemployment, covering those out of work for more than a year, rose by 61,000 to 687,000 a massive quarterly rise of almost 10%!
The employment rate for the three months to January 2010 was 72.2 per cent. The rate is down 0.3 on the quarter and it has not been lower since the three months to November 1996.
The number of inactive people of working age increased by 149,000 over the quarter to reach 21.5% a record high of 8.16 million plus a further 2.45 million making a total of 10.61 million people of working age who are without work.
When Conservative MP Theresa may challenged Labour MP Jim Night on the Daily Politics about the 8.16 million inactive people of working age he implied they are mostly students. They are not. This figure includes 2.31 million students, which although the highest figure since comparable records began is only a little over a quarter of the total.
The number of people in public sector employment was 6.10 million in December 2009, up 7,000 from September 2009. The number of people in private sector employment was 22.76 million, down 61,000 from September 2009.
The lesson is - with this government - always read the fine print.
From The Red Rag