Monday, June 26, 2006

Unemployment in the UK

I thought I'd do a piece on UK unemployment, especially as the rate, though low, has been creeping up in recent months (causing much excitement amongst Tories). Here's some stats from the Office of National Statistics:

Percentage of the Labour force in work: 74.2%
Percentage of the Labour force unemployed: 5.3%
Unemployment Benefit Claimant count: 3.0%

In the three months to April 2006,
The number of people in full-time employment: 21.61 million
The number of people in part-time employment: 7.33 million
Total employed: 28.94 million

Of employees:
Full time: 18.68 million
Part-time: 6.34 million

Of self-employed:
Full time: 2.88 million
Part time: 0.87 million

Workers with second jobs: 1.03 million

Public sector employment: 5.88 million
Private sector employment: 22.94 million

Breakdown of unemployment claimant count by region:

North East: 4.3%
North West: 3.3%
Yorkshire and Humber: 3.3%

East Midlands: 2.9%
West Midlands: 4.0%

East: 2.4%
London: 3.5%
South East: 1.9%
South West: 1.9%

England: 3.0%
Wales: 3.2%
Scotland: 3.2%

Economic activity has increased sharply in the 65+ group - the number employed in this group has increased 9.7% from a year ago to 1.17 million. A trend perhaps of older people working longer.

All sectors of the economy increased the total number of people they employed in the last year with the exception of agriculture and fishing, hotels and restaurants, and manufacturing. The economy has also been able to absorb some 300k of migrant workers from eastern europe. The pressure from migration from eastern europe should start to moderate as Spain, Greece, Finland and Portugal opened their doors in May, to join Britain, Ireland and Sweden in letting them in.

If you haven't fallen asleep reading the above stats, it's clear that the increase in unemployment is down to the big lay-offs in the manufacturing sector in the Midlands. People in those industries may be holding out to try and get similar wages rather than take the first /any job available. However, manufacturing activity has accelerated in recent months, helped by the upswing in the euro-zone economies they export too. Let's hope they gain the confidence to hire again.

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