1,000 jobs created every day - but what kind of jobs?

Tue, 31/03/2015 - 14:01 -- nick

Prime Minister David Cameron is practicing soundbites before the May election, frantically rewriting his government's poor record with the aim of finally winning an election.

His new favourite is the claim that his government has 'created 1,000 jobs each day it has been in power', a stunning-sounding figure that appears to be accurate.

1.8 million more people are in work since 2010, and that works out at roughly 1,000 per day.

It is when you dig a bit deeper that things start to unravel.

Only from the middle of 2013 were more employee jobs created than lost.

Of the 1.1 million rise in the number in work between 2008 and 2014, 732,000 were actually in self-employment.

Remember that when David Cameron says, as he did to BBC breakfast (via The Guardian):

"We commit to continuing that record because we’re going to continue supporting business and industry, continuing to make our country an attractive one to invest in and so we believe we can create those thousand jobs."

The clear implications are twofold: first, that the Tory government can take credit for specific work to create jobs (despite it being one of the most hands-off in history, and cutting most relevant budgets including that for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills hugely), and that it has created 'jobs' rather than counting primarily those who have registered as self-employed.

There is nothing wrong with self-employment in theory, but the practice under this government is very different.

As we have written before on UnemployedNet, the swathes of public sector redundancies instituted by the coalition are driving this explosion, and it is hugely negative for a huge proportion.

Some of those who have worked for the state struggle to get work in the private sector, and the thousands who have been laid off in each area then find themselves chasing the same jobs.

One refuge in this situation is to set up a small company or register as self-employed, and try to sell your services in the open market, which in practice often means back to your previous employers and contacts.

The fly in this ointment is twofold: many others are trying to do the same thing at the same time, and many local authorities and other public bodies have a ban on employing consultants and other external suppliers.

The continuation of redundancies in the public sector over the next few years is likely to entrench this cycle; more self-employed people chasing work which barely exists.

The result of this pattern is that average earnings fell to an average of just £10,400 (adjusted for inflation) between 2000 and 2012, well below the £13,125 someone on the minimum wage can expect for a year's full time work.

This information isn't included in the official wage information released by the ONS, and this poverty-level pay would bring down the average significantly.

There are other problems with including this status in the official count of jobs.

We covered a story last year which showed advisors on the government's Work Programme were pushing unemployed people into self-employment as a way of claiming payments.

The companies delivering this scheme get paid the same for getting a participant into self-employment as they do for getting them into a paid job, leading some to suggest that this route is being exploited.

This is before we even get to the big expansion in zero hours contracts, jobs that pay below living wage, and part time work done by those who want and need full time.

The government's 'jobs miracle' actually covers very few decent employee jobs that pay enough to live on, and their desperation to push the headline employment rate betrays their fear that this will be exposed.