The so-called jobs recovery will be put at risk from dramatic Tory spending cuts, says the TUC.
Commenting on the latest labour market statistics published today (Wednesday) by the Office for National Statistics, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Behind the headline figures, we still don’t have enough of the well-paid secure jobs that people want for themselves and their children.
“Underemployment has barely recovered, leaving many families with fewer hours of work than they need. And young people are hardly sharing in the recovery, with youth unemployment still far higher than before the crisis.
“Pay packets are a bit bigger, but real pay rises remain dependent on unusually low inflation. Without a stronger foundation for sustainable pay growth, the living standards of families will remain at risk.
“We need to invest in a high-value economy with more of the well-paid, secure jobs that working families need. But the extreme cuts the new government is planning will put recent improvements at risk.
“With construction already in decline and manufacturing flat, the last thing working people need is dramatic spending cuts that send our recovery off the rails.”
Main Labour Market Statistics (Source: ONS):
- There were 31.10 million people in work, 202,000 more than for October to December 2014 and 564,000 more than for a year earlier.
- The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate) was 73.5%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
- There were 1.83 million unemployed people. This was 35,000 fewer than for October to December 2014, the smallest quarterly fall since June to August 2013. Comparing January to March 2015 with a year earlier, there were 386,000 fewer unemployed people.
- The proportion of the economically active population who were unemployed (the unemployment rate) was 5.5%, lower than for October to December 2014 (5.7%) and for a year earlier (6.8%). The economically active population is those in work plus those seeking and available to work.
- There were 8.98 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive), 69,000 fewer than for October to December 2014 but little changed compared with a year earlier.
- The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (the inactivity rate) was 22.1%, lower than for October to December 2014 (22.3%) but unchanged compared with a year earlier.
- Comparing January to March 2015 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 1.9% including bonuses and by 2.2% excluding bonuses.
Employment Minister Priti Patel, said: “Our long-term economic plan is creating a better, more prosperous future for Britain, with employment at an all-time high and more women in work than ever before.
“Behind the statistics are countless stories of individual hard work and determination – of people feeling more financially secure with a regular wage.
“I want to continue to ensure our welfare reforms are giving people the skills and opportunities to move into work to give everyone in our country the chance to make the most of their lives.”
For January to March 2015, the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 15.9%. This is lower than for October to December 2014 (16.2%) and lower than the same time the previous year (18.9%). However, youth unemployment remains higher than the pre-recession levels of 13.8%.
The latest labour market statistics for 16 to 24 year olds show:
- 3.89 million people in work (including 883,000 full-time students with part-time jobs)
- 735,000 unemployed people (including 258,000 full-time students looking for part-time work)
- 2.65 million economically inactive people, most of whom (2.00 million) were full-time students
The youth unemployment rate has been consistently higher than than for older age groups since records began in 1992.
Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“The fall in overall unemployment is welcome. However, the government needs to do much more to tackle youth unemployment.
“Today’s figures show the number of unemployed 18 – 24 year olds has risen and there are more than 700,000 young people out of work.
“The government must act to give young people the chance to earn a living with better quality apprenticeships and must help the thousands left behind in the last five years.”
Benefit Sanctions Down
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics show that the number of jobseekers hit by controversial benefit sanctions has fallen 300,000 to 606,000.
The figures give the number of sanctions up to December 2014.
- Between January 2014 and December 2014, there were 606,000 sanctions, compared to approximately 900,000 in the same period the previous year.
- In the year to December 2014, the most common reason for a JSA sanction (32%) was failing to actively look for work.
- 27% of sanctions were for failing to participate in employment programmes designed to help people back to work, including the Work Programme.
- 24% of sanctions were because the claimant did not have a good reason for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre.
Commenting of the findings, Employment Minister Priti Patel said:
“Our welfare reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities and giving people the skills and opportunities to get on in life.
“We offer tailored employment support to jobseekers, and these figures show that more people are taking up that support and moving into work with the security of a regular wage.”