Sunday, 7 February 2010
Unemployment stats: then and now
Despite welcoming her to 10 Downing Street within a few weeks of becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown (as an opposition MP) once railed against Thatcher's "dishonesty" over unemployment figures.
Looking at comparative statistics though between the ILO unemployment measure and the claimant count (those actually receiving jobseeker's allowance or unemployment benefit as it was) in the mid-80s, early 90s and now reveals how much New Labour's 'welfare reforms' have kept people from successfully claiming.
While it is true that unemployment (on the ILO measure) is currently about half a million lower than in the previous two recessions (2.5m rather than 3m) it is revealing to know what percentage of those deemed unemployed under the ILO measure are receiving unemployment benefits.
In the mid-80s it was 94%, in the early 90s it was 97%, today it is just 65%. So in effect there are today over 800,000 who are unemployed who - for whatever reason - are not claiming jobseeker's allowance.
While New Labour should be pleased that unemployment has not (yet) hit the heights it did in previous recessions, it should be intensely concerned at the missing 800,000.