Unemployment Falls As ‘Economic Inactive’ Hits Record

(Telegraph) – THE NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE in Britain dropped to 2.45 million, however the good news was dampened by the number of people out of the workplace hitting a record high.

Unemployment fell for the third month in a row, dropping by 33,000 between November last year and January. It has yet to breach the symbolic 2.5 million mark, let alone the 3 million barrier that haunted the recessions of the early 1990s and 1980s.

However, economists immediately expressed caution about the monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Though there were 33,000 fewer people out of work, they were trumped by a significant jump in the number of so-called “economically inactive” adults – those that have either chosen not to or given up looking for a job. They include students, parents staying at home to look after children, long-term sick, and the “discouraged”, a euphemistic term used by the ONS to describe those that have given up the struggle to find a job.

In all, those economic inactive jumped by 149,000 over the last three months to hit 8.16 million, the highest since the ONS started recording this measure in 1971.

The biggest rise is down to the increase in students, with nearly 100,000 deciding to study in the last three months.

John Philpott, the leading employment economist, at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said: “Unemployment is sharply down, however you measure it. Yet there are also 54,000 fewer people in work, with full-time jobs particularly hard hit. The apparent paradox is explained by a very sharp rise of 149,000 in the number of economically inactive people, with the number of students surging by 98,000. Jobless young people are thus turning to study in their thousands to avoid the dole.”

Added to the economically inactive, were a further 1.04 million part-time workers that were on reduced hours because they could not find a full-time job.

Experts also pointed out that the only jobs being created were in the public sector, with 22,000 created by central government, mostly in the NHS. Ironically, one of the biggest institutions hiring new workers are Jobcentres, which took on 2,250 new workers in the last three months.

In contrast, employment in the public sector fell by 61,000.

Mr Philpott added: “Whether or not benign headline jobless figures limit the potency of unemployment as a vote clinching issue in the forthcoming General Election campaign, whoever forms the next Government will face a Herculean task in its efforts to return the UK economy to full employment within this decade.“

Yvette Cooper, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “The fall in unemployment for the third month in a row is very welcome, but we should remain cautious.

“We’re not out of the woods yet and we are still determined to do more to support jobs and help the unemployed this year.”

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One Response

  1. Is it not strange that every time these figures come out a minister says treat this with caution ever wonder what’s coming next, after all wait until the next figures show seasonal loses it will rise maybe the ministers should say hold on to your hats more trouble ahead.

    Regards Neville.

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