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Unemployment Update: October 2012

by Roger Harmer on 17 October, 2012

Unemployment fell again in latest three months of data, released today by the Office of National Statistics. For the three months from June to August 2012, UK unemployment fell by 50,000 to 2.53 million. Meanwhile the total in employment rose by 212,000 in the same period to 29.59 million – a record figure. This record is in part due to the rising overall population, but even allowing for this, the figures are still encouraging; the employment rate, for those aged 16-64, rose by 0.5% to 71.3%, the highest rate since early 2009.

This relatively positive picture continues to be at odds with the official economic growth figures. Even though the growth figures have been revised up a little, they still indicate the economy was, at best (allowing for the extra bank holiday) flat in the second quarter, which does not seem consistent with an extra 212,000 jobs being created. My guess, given that employment data is easier to measure than economic output, is that there is a statistical flaw with the growth data and we will ultimately see the growth figures revised up further, but time will tell on this one.

Two further good signs from the data are that the number of young unemployed (those aged 16-24) fell 62,000 in the three months to 957,000 – a faster fall than the overall trend (and its worth noting that the 957,000 rather oddly includes 298,000 full time students). And secondly, the fall in public sector employment in the quarter, 39,000 is hugely outweighed by the growth in private sector employment, 275,000. A year or two back, many commentators took it as an obvious truth that the fall in public sector employment would be far higher than any growth the private sector could deliver, during the period of deficit reduction.

Turning closer to home, unadjusted unemployment in Acocks Green fell by 29 in September, to 1,150, which is down 65 on a year ago. Acocks Green had the best ward figures across the City in September. In Birmingham as a whole, the figures bucked the national trend and rose by 194 to 50,267, though this is still down 1,619 on a year ago. Birmingham is now firmly at the top of the core city unemployment league, with a claimant rate of 10.9%. Liverpool is the next highest at 10.0%.

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