UK unemployment: Jobs up, pay down

Job centre The good news on youth unemployment seems to be genuinely good

Jobs prospects for young people are starting to look a bit healthier - though the average pay packet is not. Those are two clear conclusions you can draw from the latest labour market statistics. The other parts of the story, whether it's joblessness or employment, are a bit murkier.

Take the murky stuff first: that 82,000 fall in the broader measure of unemployment certainly sounds good. In fact, it's the largest quarterly fall in more than a decade. But that headline change comes from comparing joblessness in the three months to October with the same figure for the three months to July.

If you compare this latest three-month figure with the one published last month (i.e. the three months to September), the number out of work has barely changed at all - in fact it has fallen by just 4,000.

You can say something similar about employment. It's impressive, to say the least, that there are now half a million more people in work than a year ago, with the creation of 600,000 jobs in the private sector more than offsetting the jobs lost in government. The trend, though, is a little discouraging: the 40,000 rise in employment in the three months to October is the smallest since the start of the year.

However, the good news on youth unemployment seems to be genuinely good.

As usual, there is a lot going on behind the 70,000 fall in the number of unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds. For example, I was initially worried to see that economic inactivity among that group, overall, had also risen in the three months to October, by 45,000, while employment had only risen by 11,000.

But when you dig deeper, you can see that the rise in so-called inactivity is more than accounted for by a rise in inactivity among 18 to 24-year-olds who are in full-time education. (The factor that always makes these numbers such a minefield.)

Employment among young people not in full-time education went up by 55,000 in those three months, while the number who were technically inactive actually fell slightly.

So, things seem to be getting better for young people looking for work who are not full-time students - or at least they are not getting worse.

Alas, the same cannot be said for average earnings, which have actually now fallen even further behind inflation in October with average annual growth of just 1.3% - less than half the rate of inflation.

Real earnings have now been falling since the summer of 2010. This was supposed to be the year when the squeeze would ease. But we're running out of time for that particular new year prediction to come true.

Stephanie Flanders Article written by Stephanie Flanders Stephanie Flanders Former economics editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    We need management of the economy. The anti-democrat, Churchill, said "the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter". I agree, given that one in three adults has the nunmeracy of a seven year old.

    The OBR, even with its paphetic record, should have the power to say what an incoming governent can spent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    I would not read too much into one quarter's figures, particularly the quarter in which some businesses are boosting for the Christmas trade. There may well be a strong drop-off in the New Year.

    However anything that helps the young to get motivated is welcome.

    It is going to take a very long time for the economy to move into the self-sustaining growth that will create good jobs for everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Have you asked whether the newly popular zero hours contracts have been counted as being in employment in these figures ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    'Are young people supposed to be happy about these pittance-jobs when their meaningless educations had led to false expectations?
    Social mismatch = social discontent.'

    I think this sums up my point perfectly. I want to work but like many of you I would like to stand on my own two feet and perhaps start a small family. NOT asking for millions but dont want to be a burden on society either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Raise the minimum wage significantly. If more money doesn't come into the economy and the Government is focussed on deleveraging its debts, and austerity, release more money into the economy through wages.

    Yes, there will be an adjustment, and yes we might need to lower business rates, and give NI breaks for start ups and smaller companies to counteract a reduction in employment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    @199 Disaffected

    Like I said, just stop moaning, get on with it and stop with the excuses.

    I'm not even 40 and self employed so hardly stopping you from moving upwards. The only thing stopping you is, er, you.

    And don't forget, if you're young and an undergrad, you can't expect to be earning big bucks so just suck it up. I was cleaning toilets at your age to pay my way through education.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    194.David Bale

    'Unemployment falling is a myth'

    Ok, so if BBC in the future report increase in unemployment then that will be a myth too?

    Funny how everything is a myth or made up when it does not support your arguement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.


    Hold on im young I have a FULL -Time job, while doing a PART-Time degree and volunteering in my spare time. I want to work the problem is people like you from your high well paid jobs stopping me from moving up the career ladder. I can get a low paid poor job, the problem is there is nowhere to go after that the job market is to full of people working longer and not moving on.

  • Comment number 198.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    So, if I understand this correctly, there are more cheap jobs for young employees at minimum rates; this doesn't sound very promising for a dynamic financial future.
    Are young people supposed to be happy about these pittance-jobs when their meaningless educations had led to false expectations?
    Social mismatch = social discontent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    For any contributor or politician that thinks some UK commentators, journalists, or the opposition are too negative about the UK economy, just read the attached Wall Street Journal article. It refers fleetingly to good UK unemployment data, but is less complimentary about the Chancellor's autumn statement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    109 "Stephanie Flanders kicks the economy again, what a miserable champagne socialist. "

    No that is nonsense. I often disagree with Ms Flanders analyses but now she is simply telling us like it is. After all in an era of prolonged austerity there will be plenty who suffer. What on earth did you expect?

    And if you to read nice stuff before Xmas, try an alternative to the news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    You can manipulate figures till the cows come home - to make the situation look better. The fact is we are making no headway at all - Industrial Output is a falacy - Unemployment falling is a myth - We are on the edge of economic meltdown with no Business Rescue Plan !!
    However the main thing is - The Rich Are Still Getting Richer Whilst The Poor are much Poorer !
    We are all in this together ????

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    I'm not saying all unemployed are workshy. I was responding to a comment where Bonehead accused immigrants of taking all our jobs.

    The younger generation need a kick in the pants. I started work during the 1990 recession and just got on with it. We can all blame every gov for the state of the country but at the end of the day only 'YOU' can improve your lot. No one else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Iit's great that unemployment is down,.

    But low pay is a big issue, and an inevitable and widely-predicted consequence of our open borders.

    Labour is easy to come by, therefore cheap, which means low wages. Cut off the infinite supply and watch wages rise.

    The left has no right to complain about low wages, they are collaborators in inflicting them on people

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    I'm not sure people are workshy. I think some don't understand the system. They are scared that if they go to work for rubbish pay, they won't be able to survive. Thats why I said previously that attitudes need to change, especially in the younger generation. They are just starting out and need guidance. . . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    There will never be 100% employment in any healthy economy. Some of us have had wage freezes for the third year running and are unable to do anything about it but still in work which is more important. Regarding the comment at 189, subject workshy people, the fact is there are those who have no intention of going to work, happy to receive weekly benefits, some exceeding the wages of workers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Whichever way you look at it there is still not enough cash to round.... only has to see how working households need to claim something towards their housing costs because they can not get enough work..... shy? No, the people are not work shy - they want MORE work.....but the Coalition fiddle whilst the economy burns.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    @162 Bonehead

    Read 186 and then understand that immigrants don't care about the mess that we're in. They just get on with it without moaning like divas. When was the last time you saw an English car wash with English people trying to earn a crust in times of austerity?

    These people aren't taking our jobs, they're filling a gap for the workshy or those jobs we can't fill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    8 Hours ago
    Stephanie. disappointing analysis of the statistics are you now a spokesperson for the opposition'

    - Yes, reading this blog is like a series of press releases from the communications and PR department of the Labour Party.


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