Fixing the job stats

by Daphne Liddle

IAIN DUNCAN Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on Wednesday was clearly delighted to announce an apparent fall in unemployment statistics of 14,000 between October and December to 2.5 million, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

When he appeared on Sky Television News to crow about it, to her credit, the news presenter asked him about the numbers who were in part-time work but who really wanted full-time work. Duncan Smith laughed and claimed that 80 per cent of those in work who wanted full-time jobs had them.

That leaves 20 per cent of the country’s 29.73 million working population under- employed, getting part time wages that exclude them from many benefits but not getting enough to live on. That’s nearly six million people.

Duncan Smith also claimed that “Economically inactive people who are not available for work, that’s now at the lowest level since the early Nineties.”

That’s because the Department of Work and Pensions and its hireling agency Atos have been declaring thousands of seriously ill and disabled people fit and available for work. And thousands of these have disappeared completely from the statistics because they have committed suicide under pressure to seek work

or starve. The eugenicists of the 1930s would have given Duncan Smith a medal for that trick. One the same day as the jobs statistics we also had news from the ONS that average earning have risen only 1.4 per cent in the last year well below the 2.7 per cent inflation rate.

That means millions of households in Britain sliding deeper into poverty. And to match this last week statistics from Child Poverty Action showed that now one in five children live in homes below the official poverty line. Even that figure is misleading because the official poverty line — set at 60 per cent of the average income — has been steadily falling, so the fall in absolute poverty is greater. And just above that line millions more are struggling.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonus payments and before taxes and other deductions from gross pay, were £445 in December 2012, up from £439 a year earlier.

“Where we’re seeing the weakness in the labour market and in the UK economy is on the pay side,” said John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. “People are having to price themselves into jobs.”

That, in a nutshell, is why the Tories love high unemployment. The giant union, Unite, has warned the Government not to “crow” over the latest unemployment figures as the country still faces an employment crisis.

The union pointed out that although overall unemployment fell, youth unemployment, counting 16 to 24-year-olds, rose by 11,000 to 974,000, the biggest increase since the start of last year. Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said: “When 1,700 people apply for just eight jobs in a Nottingham coffee shop, then there is something seriously wrong with employment in this country.

“Of course it is good news that more people are reportedly in work but the number of young unemployed people just keeps climbing, while wages fall and growing numbers of people need two jobs just to get by.

“This is no time for Government to crow. The shocking waste of our young people’s talents, underemployment, poverty pay and bogus self-employment are all indicators of an employment crisis, not a recovery.”

The public sector union Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “These figures appear to show some relief after years of economic stagnation, but it is just an illusion. Real wages are continuing to fall, and youth unemployment is still rising.

“It is telling that more than four million people are now classed as self-employed. If there are enough jobs to go around, why did 1,700 people apply for just eight jobs at Costa Coffee?”

The big rise in the number of high street shops that have closed in the past month is evidence that the spending power of working class people is falling dramatically — and they can no longer afford to take on any more debt than they already have.

So the capitalists cannot sell their goods, the shops and businesses close and the recession deepens. It is the same old inescapable capitalist cycle of crisis and depression. Capitalism has nothing to offer the vast majority of people except more poverty and deeper despair.

There is no way out except a complete change of system to the planned economy of socialism.