Unemployment rises again as women bear brunt of economic problems

Wed, 16/09/2015 - 13:08 -- nick

Unemployment went up again in the last three month as the jobs market went into a sustained reverse.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 10,000 more people were unemployed between May and July, although recent falls in the number in work were reversed, with 42,000 more employees.

As with so much of recent economic change, women are bearing the brunt of unemployment, with 23,000 more out of work even as the number of workless men fell.

It is clear that previous increases in the number of jobs available have come shuddering to a halt; the number of vacancies was unchanged on the last three months.

Pay has started to race ahead by 2.9% per year, providing on the face of it good news for those in work, but combined with increased unemployment it shows how too many inexperienced people are getting locked out of the recovery.

Those out of work do not always have the skills the modern job market needs, and more training funding needs to be provided by the new government to help them into new industries and roles. Jobcentres are focused on getting the workless off the benefit register as quickly as possible, and will rarely allow them to take time or provide the funding to get longer-term training even where this is highly likely to lead to sustained work, hurting their ability to get the kind of jobs which allow a decent standard of living and help them contribute to the economy in the long term.

The fight for skilled staff explains why wages have begun rising quickly but also suggests a two-speed jobs market, with those who have sought-after experience able to command higher pay while those operating at the unskilled level, where many unemployed people are trying to enter, still struggle at or around the minimum wage.

We can expect this twin-track market to continue, and entry level wages are likely to stay low for a long time.

Unemployed people have not shared in any pay prosperity, with the Chancellor confirming in July that benefits would be frozen for the next four years. The increase in wages also takes the Conservative government further and further away from its 'moral' stance that the benefit cap relates to maximum pay levels.

As we warned over the last years, self-employment disguises unemployment for too many, particularly those who have been encouraged to register by their jobcentres or work programme providers with little prospect of winning any business.

The fall of 51,000 in the number of self-employed people in the last year may be linked to this; eventually those without an income will have to either sign on or get an employee job.

Behind these overall figures must be an economic 'recovery' that isn't as well established as the government wanted to believe. A lack of public investment and a lack of direct support for job creation means the UK is at the mercy of the market, and this goes up and down depending on conditions in the world around us.