Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Blanchflower and the missing hours
Posted by David Smith at 09:00 PM
Category: Thoughts and responses

On the New Statesman blog Danny Blanchflower, former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC), has launched a spirited attack on George Osborne. The chancellor, he says, "needs to get his facts straight". Why? Because instead of the rise in employment the government claims, it is in fact falling.

How so? Because in the latest quarter, April-June, total weekly hours worked fell, and were down by 6.9m on a year earlier. That, according to Blanchflower, in the equivalent of nearly 200,000 lost jobs.

But hang on a second, didn't we have an extra bank holiday in the second quarter? And wouldn't that naturally lead to a fall in hours worked? Of course it would. In fact, there's an 11m drop in weekly hours worked between the first and second quarters. The sequence of weekly hours worked numbers, Q2 2010 917.6m, Q3 921.1m, Q4 920.7m, Q1 2011 921.9m, Q2 910.6m, points strongly to a bank holiday effect, as the Office for National Statistics says in its explanatory notes.

The News Statesman blog is here and the official figures are here but I think Danny needs to get his facts straight.