Unemployment figures for the UK have been going in the wrong direction for some time. With consumer expenditure, investment and hence aggregate demand remaining low, job creation has been severely lacking. However, 2 pieces of news have emerged in the last couple of days, which as David Cameron said was ‘a massive confidence boost for the UK economy’. Tesco and Nissan have both announced the creation of thousands of new jobs.
Over the next 2 years, Tesco has said that it will create 20,000 new jobs through store improvement and the opening of new stores. Whilst it is not clear how many will be full-time, part-time or apprenticeship placements, it still represents net job creation. This huge investment represents what many are calling a ‘fight-back’ from Tesco, who issued its first profit warning in 20 years, following weak Christmas trading. That announcement slashed their shares by over £5bn and is perhaps partly responsible for this planned investment.
Despite this good news, criticisms have emerged that the major supermarkets are simply inflating the job creation figures and that the actual number of new jobs will be significantly less than the 20,000 suggested. This follows allegations made towards Asda, who claimed to have created 30,000 jobs. However, evidence from records at Companies House suggests that new job creation by the company was closer to 7,000. Whatever the true figure, it still means new jobs, which can only help UK unemployment data.
In addition to this, Nissan has also announced that it will be creating 2,000 new jobs, as it begins production on a new model at its Sunderland factory. The jobs will be created as part of a £125m investment, including a £9.3m grant from the government. This is especially good news, given the area where many of these jobs will emerge. The North East is a region that has been hit particularly hard by the recession and the grant from the government has come from its regional growth fund. Nissan has said that even in hard economic times, it is possible to sell cars, as long as they are competitively priced. Neither of the plans discussed above will create jobs immediately, but perhaps the key is that it creates confidence, which is a rarity in the UK with the current economic situation. The following articles consider these job creation plans and their wider implications.
Tesco plans to create 20,000 UK jobs over 2 years BBC News (5/3/12)
Tesco to create 20,000 jobs in UK fight-back Telegraph, Jamie Dunkley (6/3/12)
Tesco’s UK boss defends ‘new jobs’ claims Sky News (5/3/12)
Tesco to freshen up with 20,000 new staff Financial Times, Andrea Felsted (5/3/12)
Now Tesco creates 20,000 jobs – with pay Independent (9/5/11)
Nissan to build new car in Sunderland BBC News (6/3/12)
Nissan pledges 2,000 new jobs at North East plant Sky News, Gerard Tubb (6/3/12)
Nissan Invitation compact car set to create 2,000 jobs Telegraph, Roland Gribben and David Millward (6/3/12)
Nissan to create 2,000 new jobs by building compact car in Sunderland Guardian, Dan Milmo(6/3/12)
- Explain the process by which net job creation should provide a boost to the economy.
- Will these new jobs have any impact on the government’s budget deficit?
- Why is there concern that the supermarkets are inflating the employment creation figures?
- What type of unemployment has been created by the recession? Why have certain areas, such as the North East been affected so badly by the recession and austerity measures?
- Which factors could have led to Tesco’s weaker trading figures towards then end of 2011? Why did this lead to a £5bn loss in the value of the group’s shares?
- Nissan has said that cars can be sold as long as they are competitively priced. To what extent do you think price is the main competitive weapon in the market for cars and in the supermarket industry?