Unemployment falls slow down and self-employment disguises failings

Wed, 19/02/2014 - 13:47 -- nick

Recent falls in unemployment showed a slowdown in the last three months, with the rate now at 7.2% or 2.34 million people.

125,000 fewer people were unemployed in October to December, but the fall was slower than in recent months, suggesting that the economic recovery may be losing steam.

There are now 30.15 million people in work, 72.1% of the working age population.

Unlike in recent months, the employment number did not set a new record, further proof that growth may be slowing.

A slight rise in economic inactivity - a category which includes disabled and sick people, parents who cannot work and others - to 22.1% may mean that the government's push to get people off disability benefits and into work through a failing work capability assessment is faltering.

The continuing problem of low wages - they are rising at only 1.1% each year when inflation is currently 1.9% - means unemployed people are still struggling to be able to afford to take jobs, and the situation is getting worse with each year.

In-work poverty is rising and there are now more people in this situation than those who are out of work.

While a record percentage of women are in work, the proportion of men in employment is still below its pre-recession peak.

A rise in the number of vacancies - up 28,000 to 580,000 - shows encouragement, but still means more than four jobseekers are chasing each job.

The issue of self-employment is still rearing its head, showing a 172,000 rise while the number of employees only went up by 63,000.

UnemployedNet has written before about this issue, showing that more than half of the 'jobs' created during the recovery are actually people registering as self-employed.

This is often a response to redundancy particularly among public sector workers, but the fact that per-person earnings have slumped over the last years shows that many do not have a viable business.

It also includes some who are picking up odd jobs because they cannot get anything more, with many regions still struggling to create sufficient work.

The UK's economic strength is not helped by incubating millions of failing businesses.

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