12 November 2008

Quick Facts 1

I notice that now unemployment is rising, the media are using the labour force survey figures of 1.82m rather than the claimant count of 0.98m for unemployment.

Press will talk of 2m+ unemployed and it makes people think it is as bad as the Tory days but remember it was the CLAIMANT count that was 3.5m under the Tories. Goodness knows what the labour force survey figures were, 5m? 6m? I imagine these figures were not collected - Tory governments have a habit of suppressing statistical information.


  1. Neil, we have done this before.

    I reckoned that total welfare roll was much the same as in 1997, you found some stat's that showed it was in fact a few hundred thousand lower. So it is only a matter of time before it is bigger than 1997.

    Unless you take the view that being unemployed under the Tories is somehow worse than being unemployed under Nulabour.

  2. Neil

    A great brief post.

    I have to admit that I'd taken my eye off the ball about the different ways unemployment is counted, though I was a dab hand at it all in the late 1990s when it seemed so much more of an urgent problem. I suppose that says something positive about 11 year of Labour - that until the recession/depression swept in from the Atlantic I'd thought that I no longer needed to keep regular tabs on such stuff.

    Consequently, I've no longer got easily to hand the different unemployment-count methodologies (they're in box under the stairs as they pre-date things like the internet)and I'll have dig it all out, but I do remember that Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) developed a widely accepted definition in 'real unemployment' which flew in the face of mid-90s Tory rhetoric about their 'measures' having worked, pitching the 'real' figure at around 3.5 times the claimant figure and reflceting the mass shift to incapacity and other benefits associated with the destruction of industy across vast swathes of the country.

    SHU repeated the exercise in 2007 and found, inter ali, that:

    "The modest fall in real unemployment since 1997 therefore to some extent understates the true scale of Labour's achievement. Joblessness has fallen, and it has fallen most in some of the places where it was once highest. Above all, perhaps, there has been no return to unemployment on the scale of the Conservative years,"
    (See http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/jun/13/socialexclusion.business)

    I'll do more research but at first sight it seems to me that the media - out of practice as much as me on the differences between claimant and other counts (or too young to remember '1 in 10' by that Birmingham band whose name I forget) - is not being sufficiently rigorous in its historical comparisons, and is therefore prey to suggestions from the equally but deliberately uninformed Right that it's getting as bad as the 80's.

    I was never unemployed in the 80's. I was very lucky.

  3. Mark: There are more students, more pensioners and more than 2m more in EMPLOYMENT. The population is bigger and most of this growth in population are either in work, students or retired. So although the non-working population may only be a few hundred thousand lower under Labour, without Labour uuemployment could have grown significantly.

  4. I remember the Tory govt of the 80's using a similar argument (I even remeber using it myself in a political argument). At the time labour dismissed it as immaterial because it was the unemployed that mattered.

    Still, good to see both left and right clutching at the same steaws, eh?