Letter: Job losses no longer the electoral 'dog that didn't bark'

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, tries to convince us that the fall in the unemployment figures is evidence of a secure recovery. We are meant to think: fewer unemployed equals more jobs, meaning more growth and revived dynamism. Yet the Government's own statistics tell a rather different story.

The current issue of the Employment Gazette does confirm that the numbers of 'claimant unemployed' fell by 195,000 last year. But elsewhere we find that there were only 61,000 more people at work (and these are predominantly part- time jobs; over the same period there were 149,000 fewer people in full-time paid employment).

What happened to the rest of the unemployed? It seems that many must have joined the growing numbers of 'economically inactive' - people of working age who do not work, but who can no longer even claim unemployment benefit. Sure enough, in another table we find that these numbers grew by 121,000 over the same period. And even the Department of Employment admits that the 'economically inactive' includes more than 2 million people who would like to be working now.

Kenneth Clarke's policies may not be getting the economy going, but at least they are in the grand tradition of fiddling the unemployment statistics.

Yours faithfully,


London, WC1

22 April