Thursday, 18 November 2010

Part-timers hide jobs fall

From today's Morning Star, by John Millington

Unemployment fell slightly in the last quarter - but only because a growing army of temps and part-timers masked the true picture.

The latest Office for National Statistics data showed unemployment fell by 9,000 to 2.45 million in the three months to September.

However part-time employment rose by 142,000 - the fastest rise on record - taking the total to 7.98 million, 5.94 million of them women.

And the number of 16 to 64-year-olds described as "economically inactive" now stands at 9.27 million.

The TUC warned that the figures showed no sign of a recovery despite claims that the private sector is leading an economic resurgence.

General secretary Brendan Barber said: "While any fall in unemployment is welcome, it would be dangerously naive to believe that these figures constitute a jobs recovery.

"The overall rise in employment is based on shaky foundations with a notable rise in involuntary part-time work.

"With unemployed people outnumbering job vacancies by five to one it's time the government focused on helping them back into work, rather than insisting that the labour market is flourishing."

Job vacancies fell 27,000 to 453,000 over the quarter.

Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said the figures made grim reading for workers and the unemployed, particularly with the VAT rise due to come into force in the New Year.

"The underlying data reveals there are 62,000 fewer people in full-time work, but 94,000 more in part-time work," he said.

"But there is other bad news too. The number of vacancies in the economy has again fallen - and all this is before the bulk of the job cuts announced in the spending review have been implemented.

"With no strategy for job creation, the coalition government will make 2011 a year of rising unemployment and misery for millions."

Trade unionists also had little to celebrate, with only a 2 per cent average pay rise including bonuses across all sectors.

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