Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Once more on the great disappearing unemployment mystery ...

Last week we reported on the great unemployment disappearing act, focusing on growing divergence between the claimant count and the ILO measure of unemployment (see graph).

But this growing disparity isn't uniform across the UK. As the chart below shows, there is a massive regional disparity between the claimant count and ILO unemployment in some UK regions, but a close correlation in others.

To make matters clearer the table below shows, for each region or nation of the UK the claimant count as a percentage of ILO unemployment:
Our 13 November analysis highlighted the growing divergence between the two unemployment measures (showing that in 1993 the claimant count was 96% of ILO unemployment, but today is only 53%.

Health warning: the figures used are from the latest ONS Labour Market Survey stats, which for claimant count are October figures and for ILO measure are July-September. However, this difference in monthly accounting does not explain the sharp differences either within or between regions.

However, across the UK there are massive disparities. So why is it that in London and the South if you're unemployed you are far less likely to claim jobseeker's allowance than if you're in the North East or Northern Ireland? And why does jobseeker's allowance reach so many more of the unemployed than everywhere else in the UK?

What explains the differences? I honestly don't know, but I've posited some options below - please leave your views in the comments ...
  • Unemployed people in London and southern England are more likely to be ineligible for JSA due to household circumstances or personal savings
  • Bad data - the regional data for ILO unemployment is dodgy (the claimant count won't be as it's simply the number of people claiming JSA)
  • Sanctions are being unevenly imposed across different regions - disproportionately reducing the claimant count in some regions
  • The stigma of claiming benefits is stronger in some regions than others
  • Something else? Let us know in the comments ...
UPDATE (21/11/13): As was pointed out by Labour market stats wonk, Paul Bivand, Northern Ireland has some devolved powers over social security - and the UK sanctions data (analysed here) doesn't include Northern Ireland. So is that the answer - is it due to a less stringent sanctions regime there?

    1 comment:

    1. Suspect JCP may be less aggressive/punitive in places with more unemployment like NI

      AND people seeking jobs more likely to be able to survive on cash-in-hand work in London/SE; reinforced by fact that signing on now takes up so much time, is so dispiriting

      AND people in London/SE being forced to take p-t and 0hours jobs (off benefit) while continuing actively to search for real jobs (and thus ILO=U)