There was some good news and some not so good news in April’s unemployment figures issued this week. Nationally unemployment fell by 35,000 in the December-to-February quarter – down from a twelve year high of 8.4 per cent to 8.3 per cent.
But amongst those unemployed, the number of people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) rose by 3,600 in March to 1,610,000 – that’s the highest level since October 2009 according to the Office for National Statistics.
The Devizes constituency was one of 515 constituencies (that’s over three-quarters of all constituencies) to register a month-on-month fall in those claiming JSA – down by forty-one to one thousand one hundred claimants in March. So while the year-on-year figures don’t look so good (showing a marginal increase over March 2011), there are signs that between February and March employment in the constituency improved – even for claimants aged twenty-four and under.
Across the nation, during the December-to-February quarter:
– full-time employment fell by 27,000
– part-time employment rose by 80,000
– temporary employment rose by 22,000.
The breakdown of figures showing whether people are in full-time, part-time or temporary employment is not available for the Devizes constituency. The number of people only finding part-time work matters now that the coalition government has cut working tax credits for anyone working less than twenty-four hours a week.
And a “zero hours contract” (under which an employer can call you in for as few hours a week as he wants) becomes a gamble with the odds stacked against receiving tax credit payments.
A separate report about national employment trends – from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – showed that since the jobs recession began in 2008 there are 271,000 more women aged 50-64 in the labour market – but only 200,000 more are in work.
The report explains that while the figures for unemployment among women have reached record levels, this is not primarily due to fewer jobs being available for women, but to a relatively large increase in the number of women (of all ages) being part of the labour market. The Institute calculates there are 438,000 more women working or wanting to work than in 2008.