Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Employment down - Economically inactive up

Every month the Office for National Statistics publishes the UK's unemployment figures. But the report doesn't just give the big numbers. It includes a fascinating breakdown of the UK at work - and out of it.

Here are few things we learnt this month:

1. There are fewer people employed than at any time in the last 12 years.

The employment rate in the three months to January 2010 is 72.2% - it fell by 54,000 on the quarter to reach 28.86m. 

2. There are over 8m 'economically inactive' people in the UK.

8,157,000 people between 16 and retirement age to be exact - of whom 71% do not want a job. The biggest group are the 2.3m people looking after their families - up by 32,000 on the year. Next come students (2.3m) and the long-term sick (2m). 74,000 are 'discouraged' - up by 21,000 on the year.

3. If you work in the private sector, wages are going down … in the public sector, they're going up.

Average weekly earnings in the private sector are £426 per week - down 0.7% on January 2009. In the public sector, they're higher - £461 per week, up 4.1% on Jan 2009. 

4. Public sector jobs are still going up.

6m people are employed in the public sector - +46,000 on the year. 21.1% of us work in the public sector. The biggest percentage increase has been in the NHS - up by 4% on the year to 1.6m people in January. In contrast, private sector employment is down by 527,000.

5. There are more long-term unemployed

Those unemployed over six months has gone up by 58.7% to 549,000 people.

6. More of us are part-time

Part-time jobs are up - by 1.3% or 87,000 on the year. Meanwhile full-time employment has gone down by 3.4% (-642,000).

7. There are less young people employed

Employment is down for 16-17 year-olds (by 22.2% or 109,000) and 18-24 year-olds (down 6.6% or 237,000).

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Yet the BBC headlines prefer to tell us how unemployment figures are down! I wonder why?