Tuesday, August 14, 2018

UK unemployment increases for the second quarter in a row

Unemployment increased by 24,000 between November 2017 to January 2018, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The number of people regarded as being unemployed in the UK has risen for the second time in row, increasing by 24,000 between November 2017 to January 2018.

The findings will be a severe blow for the Government, but will come as no surprise to those who have warned that insecure employment and low pay is harming economic growth and job security.

Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show there were 1.45 million unemployed people, 24,000 more than for August to October 2017 but 127,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

However, the same figures also show that the employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.3%, higher than for a year earlier (74.6%) and the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.

The official unemployment rate has fallen to 4.3%, down from 4.7%, which will leave some people asking how unemployment can increase while employment numbers also rise.

It’s possible that changes to welfare benefits, coupled with stricter conditionality requirements, could be discouraging people from claiming out-of-work benefits, meaning they are on a zero-income and dependent of family and friends to make ends-meet.

ONS data also shows that average weekly earnings have fallen in in real-terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) by 0.2% excluding bonuses, but were unchanged including bonuses when compared with a year earlier.

Main findings:

  • Between August to October 2017 and November 2017 to January 2018, the number of people in work and the number of unemployed people both increased, but the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) decreased.
  • There were 32.25 million people in work, 168,000 more than for August to October 2017 and 402,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The official employment rate was 75.3%, higher than for a year earlier (74.6%) and the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • There were 1.45 million unemployed people, 24,000 more than for August to October 2017 but 127,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.3%, down from 4.7% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975.
  • There were 8.72 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 158,000 fewer than for a year earlier and the lowest since November 2000 to January 2001.
  • The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.2%, lower than for a year earlier (21.6%) and the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.6% excluding bonuses, and by 2.8% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
  • Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) fell by 0.2% excluding bonuses, but were unchanged including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Labour’s Acting Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood MP, said: “Many people are struggling with low pay and insecure work and the rise in unemployment is further bad news.

“With eight million people in working households living in poverty and the cost of basic essentials remaining high, the Spring Statement was a missed opportunity for the Government to take the urgent action needed.

“The Government has also failed to close the employment gap faced by women, disabled people and BAME groups, who have too often borne the brunt of austerity cuts.”

More may follow….

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