Yesterday’s unemployment figures make good reading. The number of people on out of work benefits is down 781,000 since 2010. Youth unemployment is down 177,000 since the General Election. The number of long term unemployed is down 45,000.
Since May 2010 the UK economy has created 1,800,000 additional jobs. Three quarters of these are full time. The unemployment rate has fallen from 8% to 6.4%, and the workforce has expanded. Some people have decided to rejoin or join the workforce who did not have jobs before but were not claiming unemployment benefits. Migrants have arrived and also found jobs. I seem to remember Labour predicting Coalition policies would lose us a net one million jobs. They will need to revise their forecast and their economic strategy based on it.
Over the last year employment is up by a massive 820,000. The majority of these jobs have gone to people already settled here, though migration from the rest of the EU remains substantial at 187,000.
The general economic policy has helped create an economy with an impressive capacity to generate more employment opportunities. The welfare reforms are helping get many more people back into work, including people who have been out of work for a long time. That is to be welcomed.
Labour and the critics were left pointing out that pay growth at 0.6% (excluding bonuses) is still low, and lower than price inflation at 1.7%. We would all like to see higher pay for those working hard in lower paid jobs who have not had recent pay rises. As the recovery continues more should be able to experience higher pay, from rising productivity, and greater success for their companies. We need to remember that the 0.6% is an average. If the economy generates more lower paid jobs that will bring the average down. If the decline of North Sea output and the exporting of top end financial jobs continues, that removes some very highly paid people which also lowers the average.
Overall the jobs news is good news. People moving from benefits to work will be better off. When more jobs are created more people have the chance to work the longer hours they want or to gain promotion to a better paid job. Growth in the economy creates more opportunity which in turn allows more families to earn a better standard of living. The best news is there are now 400,000 fewer workless families than at the time of the last election.