20/02/2014 - Good news on unemployment?

Is the fall in the number of jobless all that it seems?

The final quarter of 2013 saw unemployment fall 125,000 to 2.34 million — a rate of 7.2 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS said more women were in work than at any time since records began in 1971 at just over 14m.

Good news - up to a point!

The jobless figures don't tell you that 1.4 million people are in part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work, a fall of 29,000 over the latest quarter but still 46,000 higher than a year ago.

The headline figures about unemployment mask what Unions and others term underemployment.

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, says:

"People are taking low-paid part-time jobs on unfavourable contracts to make ends meet. What most of them want is a secure, full-time position with reasonable terms."

The figures also showed 917,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter, down by 48,000 on the previous three months.

Again, good news to a point. Pat Harrington commented:

"Consider how many young people are still without the stability and structure that work brings. Consider also the effect on their hopes for progression and development that months (if not years) of unemployment has. This is not good for our society as a whole."