Town planning: Britain's growth industry

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The Independent Online

Want to be part of the fastest- growing occupation in the UK? Then you should consider becoming a regulator. Or a town planner. Or a senior police officer. Whatever you do, don't become a chemist or a cleaner.

Want to be part of the fastest- growing occupation in the UK? Then you should consider becoming a regulator. Or a town planner. Or a senior police officer. Whatever you do, don't become a chemist or a cleaner.

That is a conclusion of a detailed study on the Government's Labour Force Survey published today. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a City-based think-tank, has analysed the Gov- ernment's figures, which show 199,000 more people were in full-time employment in the spring last year than in spring 2001.

The study questions the claims that this growth in employment is a sign of a booming economy, as the numbers of people employed in the private sector fell by 346,000, while the state - including local authorities and the NHS - took on an extra 545,000.

Drilling into the figures produces some surprising results. There were 259,000 more "managers and senior officials" in the three years, 203,000 more employed in "professional occupations" and 101,000 more employed in "sales and customer service occupations". At the same time, there were 256,000 fewer "process, plant and machine operatives" and 233,000 fewer "skilled tradesman".

A few jobs have enjoyed a boom. With the Government's emphasis on law and order, it is no surprise there are 63 per cent more police officers ranked inspector or above. A 70 per cent jump in "statutory examiners" - regulators, in other words - shows why the Chancellor announced a clampdown on quangos in the Budget. But who can explain why there are now 17,000 town planners when there were only 12,000 in 2001?

Perhaps they have come from the ranks of architects, whose numbers have dropped by a quarter, or chemists, whose ranks have fallen by a third. But most worrying is that there are 17,000 fewer "cleaners and domestics". Is Britain getting dirtier?

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