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What do I think employment figures mean?

Seems like every time these figures come out, if they are preferable, the government takes credit.

That's as bonkers as DEFRA claiming that, if the weather's nice, it's down to the government. I'm surprised they haven't tried that one yet.

The Tories have done precisely nothing to positively affect labour market conditions, how can they? They would argue their policies favouring low tax and no regulation (i.e. no workers rights) make Britain attractive for employers. But the truth is that it is demand that drives employment; no boss is going to hire people just because he has less red tape to deal with and less corporation tax to pay because that would eat into his profit margin.

If there's increased demand for his commodity then that is the most likely - but by no means guaranteed - stimulus for taking on more staff. But even then it is just as, possibly more so, likely that he will simply cut his wage bill (again, the issue of curtailing workers rights and putting industrial tribunals out of reach for the plebs) and/or compel existing workers to do more. We can see this too through the propaganda associated with 'hard work'; it is a perennial tool in the capitalist toolbox: work harder and be valued more in society - by friends, neighbours and of course family. Especially if you're a man (but pay no attention to rising male suicide and the rising rates of depression - one of the top three most compelling health problems of our age).

This week the latest unemployment figures revealed a drop of less than one percent in the number of people registered unemployed. There is also a rise in the number of people employed. Whether the two correlate exactly I don't know, so I have no way of knowing how we can account for what happened to those people no longer registered. They could be economically inactive, they could be starving, sanctioned, on the sick, or subject to any statistical DWP shenanigans. Obviously some will have found work.

But so what? The labour market itself is fundamentally precarious. Low wages, and below the rate of inflation, simply means that you're at best trading one shit income for another with no guarantee that, a year from now, the situation won't be reversed. But the Tories don't care, and so this nonsense will play to their voters who will correlated this supposed success with their nasty attitude to the unemployed. That's the real issue for me: that Tory supporters will see this as vindicating their hateful attitude. We know it doesn't work; Universal Credit hasn't fully rolled out and is utterly dysfunctional, no help is given to people found fit for work, and the Jobcentre does nothing to help people other than refer them as cheap labour (look how that works!) or send them to schemes that haven't the power to do anything either (except threaten people with referrals to decision makers).

There is nothing the Tories can take credit for. A small dip (which may well be a few thousand people - lives that of course matter) is, in my opinion, a blip. It is just the shifting current of economic winds, and it is these winds that still have the power to blow apart the house of cards that is the capitalist economy. The Tories can't control it, probably don't want to, and so it's our lives that are affected when that house collapses, and it's entirely possible that could happen again soon.


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