By Tim Montgomerie
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Pete has already blogged about the very disappointing GDP numbers and I want to return to them in another blog. The odd thing about the GDP data is the discrepancy with the unemployment numbers (and exports performance). The GDP data are either wrong or we are seeing much better than expected benefits from Britain's flexible labour market. The Left claim that the growth in employment is all part-time. In reality the closer you look at the employment data the better it looks.
Over the last year to May, for example, there was a net increase in total employment of 75,000. 63% of those were full-time jobs and 37% part-time. Let us not forget either that not all people who lost their jobs in the first place were full-time workers. Many of the jobs that were lost when the recession started were part-time and many that are now being created are part-time. Before the 2008 recession struck part-time employment equalled 25.5% and now equals 27%. It's also too early to tell whether the new part-time jobs will stay part-time, however. The hope must be that as businesses get stronger they will be able to offer more hours to their employees.
The second good thing about the employment data is that the net employment growth hides a very healthy rebalancing between the public and private sectors. In the 12 months to April (the latest period for which numbers are available) we saw a 320,000 increase in private sector jobs and a 278,000 decrease in public sector jobs. This is just part of how the UK economy is rebalancing from the Brown years when growth was built on debt and public sector bloat. We also saw this rebalancing last week with the news that our exports to the rest of the world were strongly up and to the Euro-battered EU were markedly down.
I want to return to the GDP data in a later blog but it's important to put the jobs and economic data in context. By switching from public to private sector jobs and by entering new export markets the net numbers hide signs of a much more sustainable economic composition.
Chris Grayling told ConservativeHome:
"People on the Left seem determined to talk down the good news we've had on labour market. Of course unemployment is much too high but having more people people in full-time private sector work has to be a real positive in difficult times economically. It's just irresponsible to claim the opposite."