Wednesday, March 17, 2010
On balance, very good news on unemployment
Posted by David Smith at 10:30 AM
Category: Thoughts and responses

Some will focus on the fact that employment in the three months to January dropped by 54,000 to 28.86 million, and that at 72.2%, the employment rate was the lowest since November 1996. But the broad picture was much better, particularly for unemployment.

The claimant count dropped by 32,300 to 1.59 million, 4.9% of the workforce, its biggest monthly fall since November 1997, and the January rise, which spawned a thousand double-dip headlines, was revised down to just over 5,000. This points to a better employment picture for the three months to February.

As for the Labour Force Survey measure of unemployment, this is what the Office for National Statistics had to say: "The unemployment rate fell by 0.1% on the quarter to reach 7.8% for the three months to January 2010. This was the first quarterly fall in the unemployment rate since the three months to May 2008. The number of unemployed people fell by 33,000 over the quarter to reach 2.45 million. There has not been a larger quarterly fall in the number of unemployed people since the three months to July 2007." More details here of what were, on balance, a very good set of numbers.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, in its March minutes, echoed Charlie Bean's view on Tuesday evening that growth was likely to have continued in the first quarter. Otherwise, fairly neutral, though with just a hint that inflation is more of a concern than it was. The minutes are here.