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Labour Market Trends Report

The Office of National Statistics has published an interesting report on Labour Market Trends in recent years (click here for full report).  

The headlines regarding the report have focused on the fact that the number of households in which no one has ever worked almost doubled from 184,000 (1%) to 352,000 (1.7%) of households between 1997 and 2010.  The highest proportion of such households is in inner London (6.5%) which is three times more than the next highest figure recorded (2.2% in outer London). The East of England has the best results sitting at 0.5%, followed closely by the south west (0.8%) and south east (0.9%).

Iain Duncan Smith said:

“These figures show the appalling inheritance we received from the last Labour government. They should be ashamed of their failure to tackle the root causes of entrenched worklessness and benefit dependency, which has meant that millions of children are now growing up in households where no one has ever worked.”

Read behind the headlines though, and the additional information puts a bit of perspective on this story.  If we exclude the 23% of these households that are student households (aged 16-24 all in full time education) the percentage drops to 1.3% of households.  Of this cohort, 40% are one person households and 44% are lone parent households. That leaves only 8% couples and 8% other family groups.  So going behind the headline we are looking at 0.2% of households containing multiple adults that have never worked. Unfortunately the report doesn't give the 1997 figures in the same detail so we can't immediately see the increase but it isn't quite the intergenerational unemployment hike that the headline may suggest.  

On a more positive note over the last 15 years the gap between the employment rates of  women with and without dependent children has narrowed from 5.8 percent in Q1 1996 to 0.8 percent in Q4 2010.  Will IDS give the last Labour government any credit for that?  No ... probably not!  

There are other positive figures to be found in the disadvantaged group section of the report with gaps in employment rates between ethnic minority groups and white groups, and disabled and non-disabled people.  People with low level or no qualifications are not fairing as well with employment rates falling and the employment gap widening between those and higher level qualification holders.

There is some negative news regarding the number of unemployed people per vacancy.  In March 2008 this was 2.3 people per vacancy, but in March 2011 this has risen to 5.4 per vacancy.  Bearing in mind the current government has been in power for over a year now, they can't really put that at the door of the previous government.  Amazing what people choose as the headline!  

And one final interesting point - unemployed married people are more likely to find employment than those who are not married.  It isn't clear whether this is because of the additional responsibility they feel towards their spouse, or the fact they're just trying to get away from them?!! 

 

3 June 2011 


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