Unemployment down

There’s been a lot of bad news about the economy, but perhaps things are looking up. Inflation is now at 4% and the latest data suggests that unemployment has fallen, with more jobs being created in the private sector. An estimated 143,000 jobs were created, many of which were full-time and the ILO measure if unemployment is down by some 17,000. There is still some doom and gloom, as growth in annual average earnings has fallen slightly and this will undoubtedly affect retail sales. Numbers claiming JSA have also increased marginally to 1.5 million and youth unemployment has seen a small increase to 20.4%. A big area of concern is that unemployment might rise in the coming months due to the time lag. Growth in the last quarter of 2010 was negative and this could increase unemployment when the full effects are felt in the labour market later in the year. Howard Archer, the Chief Economist at HIS Global Insight had this to say about the latest data.

‘Despite the overall firmer tone of the latest labour market data, we retain the view that unemployment is headed up over the coming months. We suspect that likely below-trend growth will mean that the private sector will be unable to fully compensate for the increasing job losses in the public sector that will result from the fiscal squeeze that is now really kicking in. Indeed, we believe that private sector companies will become increasingly careful in their employment plans in the face of a struggling economy and elevated input costs.’

The wage price spiral hasn’t begun as many though, and this may encourage the Bank of England to keep interest rates down, especially as inflation has come down to 4% and concerns about growth still remain. So despite good news about unemployment overall falling, young workers, women and public sector workers have not benefited. Youth unemployment is up, more women are claiming JSA and more jobs in the public sector are expected to be cut this year. The following articles consider the implications.

UK Unemployment: What the experts say Guardian (13/4/11)
Good news on jobs BBC News blogs: Stephanomics, Stephanie Flanders (13/4/11)
Unemployment falls, but young are left on the shelf Independent, Sean O’Grady (14/4/11)
Unemployment falls but jobs market remains fragile Telegraph, Louisa Peacock (14/4/11)
UK unemployment data reveals downturn victims as jobless total drops Guardian, Heather Stewart (13/4/11)
FTSE boosted by dip in unemployment The Press Association (14/4/11)
Unemployment falls: reaction (including video) Telegraph (14/4/11)


  1. What is the ILO method of measuring unemployment?
  2. To what extent does the change in unemployment and inflation conform with the Phillips curve?
  3. What can explain the fall in the unemployment rate, despite the decline in the economy in the last quarter of 2010?
  4. Explain how the FTSE was affected by the lower unemployment rate.
  5. Why is unemployment expected to rise later this year?
  6. Why has there been a rise in the numbers claiming JSA, despite unemployment falling?
  7. What is meant by the wage-price spiral and why has it not occured?