Wednesday, January 18, 2012
A mixed bag of labour market figures
Posted by David Smith at 12:00 PM
Category: Thoughts and responses

All the headlines on the labour market statistics will be bad, but the picture is rather more nuanced. Undoubtedly bad was the 118,000 rise in the Labour Force Survey measure of unemployment to 2.68 million or 8.4% of the workforce in the September-November period.

As the Office for National Statistics says: "The unemployment rate has not been higher since 1995 and the number of unemployed people has not been higher since 1994."

More reassuring was the small, 1,200, rise in the claimant count in December to just under 1.6 million. With downward revisions in earlier months, the claimant count has been essentially flat for four months. Also on the plus side, the inactivity rate for 16-64 year-olds fell from 23.3% to 23.1%, representing a drop of 61,000.

The rise in youth unemployment looks to be mainly a full-time student phenomenon. Excluding them, there was an increase of just 8,000 over the latsst three months. Including them, there was a rise of 52,000.

Pay remains subdued, average earnings rising by just 1.9% - still well below the rate of inflation. More here.