Labour Market

Today’s unemployment figures, though improving, boost case for regional public sector pay and a regional minimum wage


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The three non-cash benefits to pensioners should be abolished

Press Release

Unemployment figures promising yet regional disparities prevail

Commenting on today’s figures, Professor Len Shackleton, fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“These figures show the UK may finally be heading out of recession. We are doing much better than most of the rest of the EU, where unemployment is continuing to rise, and this suggests that the government is right not to panic and abandon its plan to cut the deficit.

“Unemployment is, though, still worryingly high in Northern Ireland and Scotland and this should prompt the government to press ahead with regionalising public sector pay and the minimum wage to create more jobs in the private sector in these areas.”

The latest ONS labour market data out today shows:

Positive signs the UK may be coming out of recession

Although this is just one quarter’s data, overall, the latest unemployment figures are relatively positive and may show the UK is coming out of recession.

  • The unemployment level and rate is down

  • The economic inactivity rate is down

  • Youth unemployment is down and employment up

  • The employment of UK nationals is up

  • We are doing better than the EU overall, where the unemployment rate is continuing to rise

  • The position of both men and women is improving – that of women very marginally faster

  • The improving position is not just a London and south-east effect, so cannot be attributed to a temporary boost from the Olympics

Government right to be re-testing the long-term sick

  • There has been a big fall (around 5% in one quarter) in the number of those who are economically inactive through long-term sickness. This suggests the government is right to press ahead with its controversial Work Capability Assessment for the long-term sick.

But unemployment in Northern Ireland and Scotland rose

  • Unemployment in Northern Ireland and Scotland rose and employment fell. This is likely to be because of the heavy concentration of public sector employment in these areas. This shows the importance of boosting the private sector in these areas and both regional public sector pay and regionalising the minimum wage would help with this.