The coalition government described this week’s jobs figures as ‘disappointing’ – with a national rise in those unemployed of 15,000 over the three months to the end of March bringing the total to 2,520,000.
Although the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) fell by 7,300 last month, the Office for National Statistics said the recent period of falling unemployment “seems to have come to an end.”
This week’s figures certainly showed that the slowdown in pay rises continues. Average weekly total pay rose by 0.4 per cent in the period January-March 2013 compared with the same period last year – far below the rate of inflation and continuing bad news for High Street sales figures.
Without bonus payments, the annual increase in regular pay was just 0.8 per cent – the lowest rise since these statistics began to be collected in 2001.
In the Devizes constituency the annual decrease in unemployment over the past year was recorded at 2.3 per cent in this month’s figures.
Tweeting after last month’s figures were released, Devizes MP Claire Perry wrote (April 17): “Great to see unemployment in the Devizes constituency falling again this month 1%. It’s now fallen by over 5% since March last year.”
Tweeting does not leave much space for context and analysis. So Mrs Perry will probably not be tweeting this week that May’s figures show an annual increase in youth unemployment (those aged eighteen-to-twenty-four) in the Devizes constituency of 12.7 per cent and an annual increase in the long-term unemployed (those claiming JSA for more than twelve months) of 27.6 per cent.
Of course all these percentage figures somewhat obscure the fact that unemployment in the Devizes constituency is low in terms of actual numbers. So the overall drop of 2.3 per cent equates to just 24 fewer claimants than in the same period last year.
It is difficult to get a full picture of employment in the Devizes constituency. There are no figures available for the number of those in the constituency who count as employed but are having to work part time because they cannot find full time work.
Nor are there any figures for the number of people who are on zero-hour contracts, count as employed but can be called in and paid for any number of hours in a week that their employer needs.