Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Unemployment: the tragedy continues, as does Osborne

Today the ONS revealed that there has been a big rise in unemployment over the last three months. The jobless rate rose to 7.9%, meaning there are now 2.49 million people without work.

According to the BBC and a Press Association newswire this was a "surprise", with most economists apparently believing unemployment would fall. Quite why this should have been the case is not clear. Then again these same 'expert' economists also thought the economy would grow by around 2.3% this year, and the 2008 crash came as a surprise to them. You might as well ask your cat!

While 2.49 million people are unemployed, there are another 1.26m working part-time who are looking for full-time work, which means there are 3.75 million looking for work. Compounding this misery is the news that the number of vacancies has fallen again to just 449,000.

Tragically, 409,000 people have now been unemployed for over 2 years. Welfare cuts and more conditionality cannot possibly work when there are no jobs (and there's no evidence they do even when there are). Training opportunities are also being cut.

Youth unemployment rose to 20.2%, up 15,000 to 949,000. Male youth unemployment makes particularly grim reading: 40.8% of 16-17 year olds + 19.9% of 18-24 year olds. Of course the persistent and unprecedentedly high youth unemployment levels are entirely coincidental to the recent riots that swept London and spread to many other UK towns and cities.

Economic growth is stagnant, inflation is rising, unemployment is up, real wages are falling, and more cuts are promised. Osborne's policies are "sheer criminality, pure and simple".

The PCS union is right to highlight the idiocy of closing jobcentres at time of rising unemployment. That policy has a rival for most stupid of the day in enterprise zones, which will apparently solve everything (Cameron told the press today that they will be "trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country"). Yet they are only projected to create 30,000 jobs over four years, when unemployment is nearly 2,500,000 and rose by 38,000 in the last 3 months alone.

Instead, the clue to recovery lies in revealing where the biggest slump in employment has been: the worst hit public sector employment sector has been construction, down 8.5% over the last year. This has happened due to the massive capital spending cuts made centrally and enforced upon local councils. The solution to this malady must be to invest in infrastructure: renewable energy, public transport and council housing - which would create jobs and help to solve the environmental and housing crises that we also face.

Osborne though seems set on more of the same failed hard right dogma: tax cuts, spending cuts and more privatisation. It will fail and the misery will continue for the swelling ranks of the unemployed.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the problem is to insist that all work must be done through employment and through the job market.

    It used to be that people didn't need to first be employees before they could work for themselves. They could go hunt, fish, gather and grow crops for themselves.

    Employment was not a concept in people's mind.

    It used to be that people produced by themselves most of what they needed. The idea of buying what you need was not a concept either, much less the idea of selling.

    The problem is to have subordinated everything to the market.

    It is time to reverse course on market totalitarianism and on extreme division of labor and provide for non-market means of surviving and thriving.