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Rise in claimant count: no surprise

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Stephanie Flanders | 10:36 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The rise in the claimant count in January is disappointing but not a shock - the big surprise was the previous two months of declines, while the economy was still technically in recession.

With the recovery still so uncertain, the best bet is for further rises in the jobless total in the next few months. But on the basis of these figures, we can still expect unemployment to peak earlier - and somewhat lower - than many would have expected a year ago.

Once again, rising part-time employment over the last three months of 2009 has partly offset a 37,000 fall in the number employed full-time. But we can draw some comfort from the fact that this decline in full-time employment is the smallest since the recession began.


  • Comment number 1.

    Congratulations on the headline (job seekers). The proper definition is of course 'People not employed and looking for work and able to take up a job soon' Most are unemployed in the sense of having lost their job or just out of education, but also people from the other people of working age not in employments may be seeking work; students, long-term sick or disabled people, the temporarily sick or injured, and people who have retired early or people who are looking after their family and home. The last included housewives and house husbands, carers etc. Note also that "people of working age excludes women 60 or over and men 65 or over". They as far as I know are included in the total of people actually in a job. The job seeking figure is not 'real bodies' but a weighted average of the number of people who are seeking a job (etc) over the last three months. Only the claimant count counts bodies who are 'unemployed' lost their job or just out of education' but excludes those who do not claim JSA (about 25% of men in this category don't claim.

    Incidentally all these figures are 'stock' figures but people move in and out of employment all the time at roughly 250,000 a month each way, and of course even more change firms without being 'unemployed'. It appears impossible at the moment to calculate from the published figures the chances of getting a job if you are seeking work.

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't know what makes you think it will peak lower and earlier than expected as when the public sector takes it's share of the pain coupled with meagre private sector growth at best the levels of unemployment still has every chance of hitting 3 million and staying there for quite a while.

  • Comment number 3.

    Actually the headline is completely wrong. As the linked article says, the unemployment rate fell very slightly. Unemployment here is the ILO definition, which measures (by survey) the number of people out of work looking for work. These are fairly accurately described as "job seekers".

    The number that went up is the claimant count. This is a much smaller number (nearly a million fewer people), the number of people actually registered at a job centre and actually claiming benefit or registering for NI purposes. In fact, not all these people are necessarily looking for work, though it is a fair bet that most are.

  • Comment number 4.

    Bloomberg Website Headline this morning:
    U.K. Unemployment Jumps to Highest Level Since Labour Party Came to Power

    BBC Website Headline this morning:
    UK unemployment sees slight fall

    Different people interpret the same data in different ways !

  • Comment number 5.

    Like Golan I am concerned about 'expectations' and notions of 'taking comfort' etc not only for the reason he gives but also because for economic reasons. Employment has always been a lagging indicator. The reasons is that employers don't recruit in until they see upturns in real demand for their products (having become more 'efficient' during the down turn) Maybe practices in the labour market are changing with more labour hoarding as it used to be called,and pay reductions. Is the increase in part time workers really an increase in people in 'part time' jobs or people working short time for their previous full time employer.

  • Comment number 6.

    This government now employs 900,000 more people than in 1997. All of them will have to find their way out of the public sector in the next 4 years if the government reduces structural debt.

    Where do you get your briefing from?

  • Comment number 7.

    So people who found work dealing with the run up in demand prior to Christmas have now been laid off. Shock horror!

    Why is it that every normal seasonal event in the annual economic calendar now has its entrails undone so that the high priests can somehow determine the broader issues in the world?

    There was a surge in demand due to Christmas which was hailed as The Economic Recovery! I agree the Nativity is a certain sign of God's good Grace but its commemoration comes around every year and there is a customary increase in sales of toys, chocolates and oranges as a consequence. This should be accounted for in a normal way.

    Yet the economy remains knackered, demand is subdued and the government hasn't a clue as to how to tackle it other than print funny money. The only thing in the government's favour is that nobody else knows what to do either.

  • Comment number 8.

    I stopped believing in the 'manipulated' statistics that Labour put out 6 years ago.

    Unemployment stats down, and yet the number claiming job seekers allowance up? Do me a favour!

    Changing the way that statistics are recorded and then reported is the mainstay of this Labour government. So many times they have manipulated and weasled their successes in an attempt to fool the electorate that they are doing a good job.

    I opened up my local paper this morning to find no less than 6 full page adverts, one telling me how good a shape the NHS is in and the other 5 condemning my lifestyle choices.

    This latest use of statistics in the 'jobless total' is just another lie from a disgraced government that relies on propoganda and sleaze to stay in power.

    I work with over a 100 businesses and I can tell you that people are being laid off right, left and centre. Where are they appearing in the stats?

    Small businesses have up until now not been too badly affected by the recession, but just before October all of them said they were starting to feel the pinch. Since Christmas it has been really tough and they have been letting staff go, or asking them to work for less or on half days.

    The biggest 'non-surprise' is where employers have been faced with the choice of reducing wages and retaining staff or making people redundant, only to find that thanks to the minimum wage, there was just no choice. They had to make redundancies, much to the distress of those employees who would have been happy to work through the recession to get the businesses back on track!

    These figures are not a realistic depiction of the 'truth' out here in the private sector.

    Yet so many people cling to this ridiculous notion that socialism is the beacon that will guide them to a brighter dawn. Well it hasn't happened in last 12 years and it is unlikley to happen in the future.

    Socialism is a lovely idyllic theory that relies on human generosity to be effective. The fact that Parliament is full of self serving 'socialists' hasn't actually occured to those supporters that maybe that is the reason why this country is not quite the great country it should be.

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 goodthinkinggeorge

    The Job Centre has a very strict regime monitoring everything that those claiming JSA are doing to secure employment and this is noted in an agreement. If they are not satisfied with efforts being made, then benefit is stopped immediately. I would be surprised that anybody could bypass the system, receiving benefit, without seeking work.

  • Comment number 10.


    We can't draw any comfort at all. This is still very worrying given those that have taken temporary jobs becasue they can't find full-time work, various employment hiding schemes, temporary funded schemes until June etc etc etc etc........

    The numbers are not accurate. We have a growing population that isn't working in any capacity, we have a growing population who are not working full-time but want to. And we have a chunk of population who aren't even in the stats.

    Not sure if you've been reading the news lately but there's another surge in job cuts gone on from big employers and we are now seeing the first wave of public sector cuts.

    Very few SMEs are hiring and there is another wave of company foreclosures on its way.

    Trustedfriend's comment #4 is also very apt.

    Just trying to understand where the BBC is coming from on this. You seem to inherit a very different planet.

    Could I remind that the BBC stands for BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION not BIASED BROADCASTING CORPORATION and has built a supposed reputation on unbiased reporting. This appears to be sadly lacking in most recent times......

  • Comment number 11.

    Sorry Msssssss Cooper, how has adding 241,000 people (now up to 8.1m a staggering 21.3% of the work force!) to the economically inactive saved us money? I fail to see how by moving people on to other more expensive benefits and off the claimant count you have "saved" £2bn

  • Comment number 12.

    Today's figures show that statistics in the UK is going Greek!

  • Comment number 13.

    Can I summarise this in laymans language.

    The total number "unemployed" has fallen slightly but the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance is up.

    In other words those who say they are unemployed is down marginally no doubt helped by these new part time workers however those that can't find work again quickly or can't even find part time work has increased.

    Perhaps we should be more concerned that the "new" jobs are mostly part time rather than fulltime jobs and as such what our parents would consider real jobs are in a decline.

    We should be concerned that the number that cannot get a job in a short period of time or those are unemployable has risen. It is these people that act as a drag coming out of a recession as we find that when times get good some of these people still can't find work, or don't want to work.

    Perhaps Britain's famously flexible workforce is becoming less flexible.

  • Comment number 14.

    When will people begin to grasp two things:

    1) that this is the same Depression that occurred in the 1930's and, that the problems that caused it have never yet been rtesolved - other than by temporary fixes which revolve around the manufacturing of vast quantities of munitions?
    2) That Europe is a resource-poor continent, which will inevitably in the long term, get significantly poorer in relative terms, in comparison to the rest of the World?
    I can foresee a population decline in Britain of at least 50% over the next century. It is virtually inevitable. If I hadn't had such a disrupted later childhood myself, I think that I would almost certainly have had the confidence to go myself, when I was much younger. I can certainly recall seeing the writing on the wall, whilst studying Economics back in the 1970's.

  • Comment number 15.

    I work in the construction sector, we are having layoffs in the hundreds of thouands and I am inundated with calls from people seeking work, however there isn't any as no new construction has been initiated for at least 18 months (apart from public sector works)

    I speak to people in other sectors and to a man they tell a similar tale

    Where the hell do they get this fall in unemployment from?

  • Comment number 16.

    Somewhat disappointing analysis but not surprising if the report is at the macro level.

    Several commenters above have pointed out that the figures hide the reality.
    1. More part time hours than ever before
    2. More long term unemployed, many no longer registering as they are eliminated from JSA/Benefits entitlements, doing cash work
    3. Overall total without a job when they want one is up, but again people with 12 months plus oow are dropping out as they are subjected to the humiliation process or inappropriate targeting that the 'new deal' offer subjects them to. (hi, I'm Stacey, with 2 years experience in the work place, and you're a Construction Programme Manager used to managing £50m budgets with 30 years experience... well I think we can get you your compulsory a work placement in social care. Sorry, Stacey, that's rather far removed from what I'm used to doing, so I'm going to drop out of the programme before I'm forced out)

    Come in number 7, your time is up (or should it be number 10)

  • Comment number 17.


    Your inane attacks upom Ms Flanders and the BBC in general is becoming more than a little tiresome.

    You have a full range of media from which to find the information that you seek. Yet you demand that one of them merely interprets news as you would wish it to be presented with all your bias included. I would also point out that what you are contributing to is a blog - an internet space designed for discussion. IT IS NOT A NEWS BULETIN. Hence Ms Flanders is fulfilling her role by presenting ideas that can be discussed in such a way as to provoke response. It is YOU who are being the NUMPTY

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi Stephanie

    Perhaps there is a programme opportunity here? A 90-minute investigation of the way statistics are/have been presented. You could do a great job, but if you think it is more Politics than Economics, why not get Lara Kuenssberg to do it?

    I don't know what it would show, but it might quieten some of your critics on this blog. (No, what am i saying? How silly of me.)

    It should show how statistics would have appeared throughout the decades using alternative schemes. I know there would still be arguments about how many people are really disabled, but even that could be helped by showing (or not) correlation of rises/falls of disability claimants and unemployed.

    It could even discuss the merits of the different measuring systems, and try to understand the thinking behind the different schemes.

    I think most of us know that the employment data is too confused for us to understand what is going on. It is a bit like the weather/climate - too complex and chaotic to predict. Even the government, which has been tuning the economy for the run-up to the election, was puzzled at recent results.

    Here's a challenge: see if you can create a programme that is appreciated and applauded by both ForedeckDave and RugbyProf.

  • Comment number 19.

    Post 15, the preferred option to get people off jobseekers allowance is to push them onto incapacity benefit or similar.

    They cease to be unemployed and simply unemployable. If they are able to work physically its amazing how strees has risen amongst the unemployed / unemployable.][1][1].xml.html

    There are even companies out there that will help you claim for it and other benefits to "give yourself the best chance of getting the right decision". Which for them is you getting the benefit. Just Google benefits and work if you don't believe me.

    There are now over 8 million people of working age economically inactive in the UK. The full report thatnthis blog is about is linked below. It is surprisingly easy to read and follow.

  • Comment number 20.

    Why does the BBC not attempt to provide us with the true figure for unemployment? That would be a reasonable job for some journos, rather than just repeat the ONS stats? It would have genuine public interest.

    The real stats of course, include large numbers of middle class unemployed who do not qualify for benefits due to having savings and have thus not presented themselves at the Job Centers. I know three people personally in this category. As savings dwindle, they become eligable for Job Seekers allowance. This is the significant cause of the figures that Steph seems to find so surprising. And why is the small previous months fall a mystery? It was Christmas!! Seasonal jobs... yes? Now those jobs are gone, back to Job Seekers allowance. Come on these factors are not rocket science.

  • Comment number 21.

    #9 The "claimant count" includes people who are not claiming JSA but register to keep their NI record intact. I believe (correct me if wrong) these people are not subject to monitoring as to whether they are looking for work.

    #8 The "unemployment" figure is compiled by the Labour Force Survey and is independent of government. The criterea are set by the ILO and are stable. (The "claimant count" is of course dependent on who the government allows to claim and the basis has changed many times. This is why most commentators focus on the "unemployment" figure). If people are being laid off in your area then they are being taken on somewhere else in the country.

    The larger picture is that over the last three months unemployment is practically unchanged. This has to be good news, and is consistent with other indicators showing that the economic picture has stopped getting worse.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why would anyone bother entering into the swamp of dissembling and sophistry in order to debate unemployment figures. They are rigged in a multiplicity of ways.

    Just look at the income tax take - that tells you all you need to know, it is down and materially so.

    Why doesn´t the BBC bother to perform some simple analysis as to the dichotomy between reported unemployment and tax takes.

    Who cares about unemployment anyway - It is just a proxy for how much money people have and how effectively they can fulfill their alloted role as consumers. Income tax receipts are a far better proxy. Maybe this is why they are ignored.

  • Comment number 23.

    Measuring unemployment. Hey why not count people wearing stripey shirts its about as relevent.

    Fall in umemployment

    Most likely attribuitable to either people who get choked off with the JSA mind bending and find it is easier to be out of the system. You do not have to have much in the way of savings or redundancy payout to not qualify for JSA cash apyments. The first 6 months is not means tested. At the end of 6 months some jump the SS JSA. There are also a number of under 21s who jump ship to do courses. Its the way you count them gov.

    Government revenues figures are the key to what is going on and they are most unlikley to be rising.

  • Comment number 24.

    21 goodthinkinggeorge:

    ''If people are being laid off in your area then they are being taken on somewhere else in the country.''

    Yes, but just what are they now doing, a job with the same income - or the 28 percent less income - or move to part time work - reported.

    There is almost certainly contraction still going on.

    There is almost certainly a resulting contraction in HMG revenues which just makes the debt problem worse.

    What chance the 3 percent growth Ali D would like to see in 2010.

    Now, talking about digging holes, I have to get back to the Mines on Mongo. So bye for now.

  • Comment number 25.

    #21 and others

    'The larger picture is that over the last three months unemployment is practically unchanged. This has to be good news, and is consistent with other indicators showing that the economic picture has stopped getting worse.'

    Unfortunately I don't share your optimism.

    If you look at the 'even larger picture' you'll find we borrowed £200 Billion this year to keep a lot of public sector workers from becoming unemployed.

    Do you think we can reverse a £200 Billion deficit without job losses?

  • Comment number 26.

    Did we ever really get rid of the unemployment from the eighties. Even at the peak of last cycle unemployment was 1.5 million and it was widely accepted that about 1.8 million of the 2.7 million on disability benefits should really be classified as unemployed. That makes 3.3 million, That may not be the full extent of eighties unemployment,but given all the various changes in statistics, it is fairly close.
    It makes you wonder whether in the countries where capitalism is at its most advanced all the workers have to look forward to is continually rising unemployment and falling levels of pay and benefits.

  • Comment number 27.

    FDD #17

    Please note ITC #19 has kindly posted the link to today's report from the ONS which I presume Stephanie has been reading (if not then which one?)

    Now please read through Stephanie's take on this and then re-read the ONS report.

    Do you not think that Stephanie's comments are a teeny-weenily slanted and selective?

    All's I ask is that a fair view is put forward.

    I.e the main headline could be 'Unemployment falls slightly but so does employment with some underlying worrying trends...'

    or how about

    'Employment falls slightly but so does unemployment with some underlying worrying trends...'

    or how about:

    'The number of economically inactive people reaches record high of 8.08 million since records began....'

    or even

    'Over a record 1 million people who want to work full-time have to settle for part-time work...'

    No - what we get on BBC's main story headline is 'UK unemployment sees slight fall' and Steph says 'Rise in claimant count: no surprise'

    If you don't see the disparity/bias in the reporting I suppose you never will...

    I note that Steph already has a new blog entry - must be getting white hot on you can only spin so far.

  • Comment number 28.

    AA #26

    Yes -we've got a strutural employment problem gong back some way which has been exacerbated over the past decade and it is linked with not doing any mass production anymore for our own consumption.

    I don't think we have ever had any real business strategy as a nation and have muddled our way through various crises.

    The last 12 years growth has been built on sand which leaves us in a deeper hole.

    A rethink about what we want to do as a nation is well overdue. Otherwise its just sticking plasters covering our inexorable journey to grazing pastures....

  • Comment number 29.


    Dear Stephanie,

    I really beg to differ with your points. You are clearly some sort of propaganda for all this going yet in a very misleading manner.
    According to the Office for National Statistics the Jobless Claims level rose by 23,500 compared to an expected median drop by 10,000 as surveyed by Bloomberg of 27 economists. Yes, that's 27 economists mostly thought that the number of people claiming unemployment would drop by 10,000 and yet there was a rise by 23,500 more people claiming benefits, which means that unemployment actually rose. Now there are 1.64 million people claiming unemployment benefits benefit, the highest in 13 years.
    If you like I too can be a propaganda and mention that this figure shows the highest number of people claiming benefits since Labour took power.
    Bloomberg is should be noted is one of the world's leading economics and financial news and information services. I do not work at Bloomberg, I simply seek the best information and in this case seek to clarify.

  • Comment number 30.

    #26 "It makes you wonder whether in the countries where capitalism is at its most advanced all the workers have to look forward to is continually rising unemployment and falling levels of pay and benefits."

    People on earlier blogs also speculated on a "race to the bottom" of advanced economies slashing their public sector provision in competition with each other. The net conclusion is that capitalist society can no longer provide healthcare, education, employment, pensions etc, nor can it provide sufficient wealth and income for the majority to support the lifstyles to which we have become accustomed. It has exhausted its capacity for development, from now on it can only impoverish the majority in rewarding the tiny minority of ultra-rich.

    Sadly many posters to this blog will accept this logic and argue (sometimes gleefully) for the acceptance of impoverishment (as long as it doesn't apply to them of course). However I am sure that the rational majority will agree with me that it is now urgent to start developing the post-capitalist economy.

  • Comment number 31.

    Most People do not understand how the total amounts Head counted as being Classed as being Unemployed in Numbers has fallen, while at the same time there has been a big increase in the numbers that are Claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

    At the same time those Classed as being "Economically In-Active" has now risen to over 8 Million People of ALL the Age - Groups upwards from 16 to 65 Years of Age.

    The problem we have of course is that included within the figure of those counted that make up the 8 Million plus - Total figures includes those whom are in receipt of Disability Benefits paid to those whom will clearly NEVER Work again, and also those whom are lost in the Nu-Labour invention of endless Turn - Style Training, both in the Higher and Further Education sectors with clearly no future prospects of ever finding any REAL future Medium / Long - Term Employment places outwith Education, as at best all that can be achieved using Jack & Jill of ALL Trades Skills, and Masters of NONE Courses are simply an invention for keeping the Total numbers in the Unemployment figures down while at the same time presenting a false Life Style of Retraining and Further Education as some sort of Life-Time Career in itself.

    Of course neither Labour nor Conservatives CANNOT understand that we will have to at some stage permanently exclude from these Figures those that make up the Total that are currently Classed as being both Economically In-Active and Unemployable by reasons of Disability, by excepting that these Claimants ARE and should be Classed as being Retired from Seeking further Employment, as it is completely senseless in continuing to count these Claimants as being able to hold down any form of Full - Time Employment place, when in many Cases it was by reason of their previous Full-Time Employments that caused these Claimants to receive Disability Benefits - In the First Place.

    In the Cases of what we now have is reality of a Life-Times - Full Time Student moving through Turn-Styles from one Course onto another just to keep them off of the Streets, and off of the Offical Unemployment Count, that some how it is suppose to suggest that the Government is in charge of events, when of course everyone knows that this [ if anything ], is further from the truth than you can possible get, therefore - Who's trying to fool Who here, and Why?

    The only REAL way to reduce Unemployment is for someone within the wasteland of Government to come up with NOT so much a Vision of what should happen to re-invent any Export Drives, but moreover someone whitin Government with a "REAL PLAN" to ensure that over the next 5 - 10 Years there will be a National Partner-Ship between Government and the combined Private Sectors to come up with ideas about what is urgently needed to receive Long - Term State / Private Investments to re-build Inferstructures and Industries that will be fit for purpose for ALL our future Generations to be able to work Full-Time in enviroments that will restore Growth to the UK's Economy, for otherwise if NO Plan of any REAL Vision of what our Economical future should be should come forward, then everything else we might have already done from Quantititive Easing, or will further do by the tightening of the Public Expenditure purse would have and will be in vain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Stephanie

    A bit of a curate's egg: good in parts. Some thoughts and possible explanations on the unemployment numbers released today.

    1. The bad.

    37K Long term unemployment increased to 663K & is an upward and concerning trend still. 649K less jobs in the economy than a year earlier. Economically inactive increased by 72K, up to 8m. 23.5K Increase in claimant count. The significantly larger reduction in the proportion of non-UK born people (98K/3.72m) in employment, compared to UK born (327K/25.24m), which could indicate some discrimination in redundancy processes, in direct contradiction of the claims in the Equality and Human Rights Commission's recent report on the subject.

    2. The Good.

    3K Reduction in ILO unemployment rate. Reduced numbers of redundancies, both on the last quarter (36K) and compared to 12 months ago(94K), albeit still too many made, at 168k for the quarter. The smallest (37K) fall in people in full-time employment since the quarter up to July 2008. 13K Reduction in youth unemployment to 725K, albeit small and still very high. 49K increase in job vacancies to 479K.

    Potential explanations:

    1. 37K Part-time work increase including 1.04m wishing for full-time employment. The majority are likely to be those that have been put on short-time working to keep their jobs. Far better for them, the long term of the economy, their employers' costs and the economy's productivity.

    2. Reductions in young people's unemployment: increase in continuation in full-time education (62K students) and other vocational courses. This is also positive for the longer term productivity of the economy.

    3. The government has made much publicised efforts to support the young back into employment. The numbers of long-term unemployed (663, 000) are now almost on a par, surely requiring some positive action, but not forcing graduates etc to take roles not in keeping with longer term career aspirations, or older people into roles, which do not recognise their qualifications and experience.

    4. Perhaps claimant count increase is due to people that had taken a year off, or sabbatical travelling due to prior knowledge that the jobs market would be poor for a least a year. They have now returned to seek work.

    The most knotty issue is likely to be the long-term unemployed.

    #4 and #10. Michael Bloomberg is the Republican Mayor of New York and owner of Bloomberg. His company is not bound by the same impartiality rules that the BBC observes.

    The BBC has not highlighted either of the positive news aspects of the reductions in redundancies or the c10% in vacancies, in its stories or comment about this. Both of these observations are to be discerned in today's data release by the Office for National Statistics.

    Once again, rugbyprof has failed to provide any evidence to support the ten different sweeping assertions about trends in the economy made above under #10. Indeed, the following statement made by rugbyprof is simply untrue, "Not sure if you've been reading the news lately but there's another surge in job cuts gone on from big employers". It is directly contradicted by today's ONS data. There was actually a 94, 000 reduction in redundancies compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

    rugbyprof. You have adopted the same deliberately affected anger in your blog comments as that which the Tory Party leader displays at every public utterance. It is just as unconvincing, ineffective and false. Your continual personal attacks on Stephanie could see you sent to the the sin-bin pretty soon, or even a referral to the citing committee. Complaints of BBC bias are just plain whingeing.

    Unless you stick to the economics and the facts, then people will conclude that you are running a deliberate political, or worse still personal campaign. Try reading a medium, which is more in keeping with your views. You might even enjoy it.

  • Comment number 33.

    #27 Rugbyprof,

    You still haven't woken up to the whole rationale of blogging. What and how Ms. Flanders puts on this blog is designed to stimulate comment. In that she has been very successful.

    The above piece does not contain any statistical inaccuracies. I think you will agree that the figures quoted from the ONS report are the ones published. Neither does Ms. Flanders attribute any statement or explanation to ONS that does not come from them. If that had been the case then you would have an argument. What Ms. Flanders has done is to put a particular viewpoint on them and invited you to comment. You have done so in your disagreement with her intreptation. THAT is what a blog is SUPPOSED to do.

    This is not spin from me its Fact.

  • Comment number 34.

    #31 LondonHarris

    As they say in Parliament, "Here, here!".

    The final paragraph is absolutely spot on.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well I see FDD and fleche_dor still doing a good job of convincing themselves.

    Sorry I've moved on...

  • Comment number 36.

    That's it? Or is this a placeholder pending further analysis?

  • Comment number 37.

    #25: The rosy scenario is that as the recovery kicks in, tax revenues rise and the deficit falls to sustainable levels. The gloomy scenario is that the economy never recovers so large spending cuts will be necessary.

    I don't know which will happen - predicting the future is a mug's game. However it seems premature to write off the rosy scenario. Yesterday's results from Barclays tells you where all the extra capital created by the deficit has gone - into increased capital reserves of banks. Once this process is finished - and it looks like Barclays are just about finished - we will know if the excess capital is going into productive use or not.

    #24 Yes I agree many people are in part-time or non-ideal jobs and this does not show in the headline rate. This process has been going on for a while. However significant economic contraction is not showing up in the stats. The overall picture from both GDP and employment is neither expansion nor contraction.

  • Comment number 38.

    What no one seems to have pointed out is that the headline unemployment figures are sample estimates based on the Labour Force Survey. This means that every one of these numbers has a sampling uncertainty attached to it. If you dig back from the headlines in the ONS report, you can actually find these uncertainty measures. So, from the table on page 13 we see that the fall in unemployment is 3,000 with a sampling uncertainty of +/- 84,000. In other words, it is pretty nearly as likely that the true figure is up as it is likely to be down. Neither the ONS report nor the political commentary on it has qualified the headline figures. Isn't it rather unscrupulous to use a figure as uncertain as this to try to claim the good news?

  • Comment number 39.

    Your headline is probably entirely correct. The claimant figure is disappointing, but not surprising. But that isn't the headline we were primed to get, was it? Ahead of today's figures the big concern was that last month's figures were a "blip" and that the unemployment figures would resume their "inevitable" upward rise.

    But they didn't. The truth of the matter is that once again the "experts" have got it wrong. And I fear your blog has simply chosen to ignore that and point to something else you think we ought to feel gloomy about instead.

    This would, in any other sphere of endeavour other than long range weather prediction, be described as "special pleading".

  • Comment number 40.

    35. At 4:28pm on 17 Feb 2010, Rugbyprof wrote:

    Well I see FDD and fleche_dor still doing a good job of convincing themselves.

    Sorry I've moved on...


    If only that were true! You don't move on. You continually go on about bias whenever you come across somebody not following your bizarre narrow view...

  • Comment number 41.

    38. OldStatistician

    Good point about being mindful of the sampling error. But your comment
    that it is "unscrupulous to use a figure as uncertain as this to try to claim the good news" has an enormous margin of error attached to it.

    Isn't it the case that the media always ignore the margins of errors regardless of whether the totals are going up or down? So by ignoring them now just shows that the media are being consistent not unscrupulous.

    I hope you're not calling on the media to stress margins of error only when the unemployment totals fall and to ignore them when unemployment totals rise. Now that would be unscrupulous without evidence of asymetric margins of errors (or whatever they are called).

  • Comment number 42.

    Looking into the ONS data that a previous poster kindly put up, I saw a couple of interesting things.

    One is that over the past 2 years the difference between the claimant count and the total unemployed has remained remarkably consistent at around 600,000 - although the claiment count has risen from around 800K and the total from around 1.4M. This would seem to go against the anecdital eveidence posted by other that a disproportionate number of new unemployed had savings and are not claiming benefits.

    The second thing is the ecomomically inactive - this includes house wives / husbands, students, the short and long term sick, and early retirees. But it has 2 other categories one is something like 'disillusioned workers' presumably people not getting any benefits who have simply given on looking for work. There are 78,000 poor souls in this category - and increase of 4,000 over the last period - would be interested to see a longer term analysis of this...
    The other category is 'others' - there were over 700,000 in this category. I can guess it includes prisoners and asylum seekers prevented from working - but that isn't many, who are all the rest? The idle rich? If so, there seem to be rather a lot of them...

  • Comment number 43.

    Given your prediction about the level of unemployment levelling off sooner than expected, is it realistic to expect that House prices will not fall this year by 10% as predicted by a number of economists? Or will it just be the opposite, with pent up desire to sell catching up?
    I ask as a divorced person disposessed from his home and who has been patiently waiting abroad to buy from the limited resources I am left with.


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