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Thousands and Millions

The unemployment figure has decreased again - so sayeth the news. However that doesn't begin to address the reality of the picture as there are many factors within. Lots more people are working part time, however part time work doesn't cover the bills and is an attractive proposition mainly to cheapass employers and only those few that can make it work. 

But there are still at least a couple of million out of work, so, even taking this figure on face value, what does this mean? The Tories claim that this is a good thing, but how can it be? There are still way more people out of work than there are vacancies for them. This doesn't include the thousands more likely to bear the brunt of austerity when it begins to hit full force over the next year and beyond. 

What I'm saying is that, if the government wants to claim a victory over unemployment, as new boy Mark Hoban is trying, it needs better figures than this. A few thousand getting employment compared to a few million still unemployed is like saying we've made Afghanistan a safer place by arresting a pair of drunken brawlers outside one pub (as if) in Kabul. Yet Hoban was in the media saying that 'there are now 170,000 less people out of work than in 2010'. Presumably by this he means pre-election; a cheap shot at Labour that probably isn't even accurate; unemployment has increased since that time and so that number of people may well come from the count produced during the Coalition's tenure thus far.

And of course the debilitating effect of government sanction policy will have a detrimental effect on the number of people claiming, not least of all because they cannot maintain their claim while they receive nothing each time they sign on. If my money got stopped I'd have no bus fare to get to the JC (or even the WP, never mind them refunding it). So that would mean by default my claim got closed. End result: one less person claiming JSA. Then there's the various workfare/'experience' schemes that have sprung up which I'm sure take people off the claimant count for a time at least.

I'm sure there are smarter people than me that can get to the truth of these figures, which, according to the superficial reportage of the likes of the BBC, show a consistent downward trend. But even that, as I've said, I'm suspicious of. If the Work Programme and all the rest of the government's 'helpful' initiatives were successful then surely the drop in unemployment would be consistently much greater? A few vacancies here and there (which may only last a few months, especially over the Olympics period and now Christmas) are not the solution. We may be back where we started in a few months as well.


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