By Peter Hoskin
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figures, published this morning, tell a similar story to those from last
month and the month before
that. Basically all of the major metrics are heading in a positive
direction: the unemployment rate for the three months to August was 7.9 per
cent, down from 8.1 per cent in the three months to May; there were 2.53
million people unemployed, down by 50,000; and the number of people claiming
Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 4,000 in September. As the graph above shows, this
leaves us with 29.59 million people in employment — a rise of 212,000, and the
highest figure since records began in 1971 (albeit with more people actually in
the economy than back then).
today there’s a new good news story to tell. Youth unemployment has fallen
below 1 million to its lowest total for over a year. It stood at 957,000 in the
three months to August, down 62,000 on the previous period. Of course, youth
unemployment of nearly 1 million is nothing to be complacent about — but the
trends are encouraging, at least.
so to that familiar question: how can the employment figures be so buoyant
relative to economic growth? It’s still rather a mystery, although the answer
probably lies in the compromises being made by some workers. At 1.7 per cent
over the year, wage growth is still below inflation. And the number of people
in part-time employment is still increasing, up by 125,000 in these latest
figures to 8.13 million — some 59 per cent of the total increase in employment
over the period. Crucially, this also includes around 1.4 million people who
are working part-time because they couldn’t find a full-time job.
is when these part-time workers start finding full-time work that we’ll know
the economy is really picking up. But, in the meantime, these are welcome
figures — and they’ll be as nectar to David Cameron, ahead of the Mitch-hunt
to come at PMQs.